The Things by Jeff Oaks

The Things

Poetry by Jeff Oaks


What does it mean to grieve, to watch over your dying mother in the last few months of her life as she sorts through things she’s leaving you after she dies?  Buddhists speak of the bardo as that difficult period when the rug is pulled out from under you.  Jeff Oaks’ The Things, more than any book I’ve read, captures the evanescent and grievous quality of it. There’s water in almost every poem, mostly the Allegheny River where he walks his dog every day, but there’s rain, storms, tears, snow and ice—water as it changes forms, water never staying the same.  Each grief is so private, so total, so unknown.  It’s the ephemeral nature of grief as we wade through it, minute-by-minute, thought-and-act by thought-and-act that Oaks so elegantly captures.  I love this book!

Toi Derricotte, author of I: New and Selected Poems

About the Author

Jeff Oaks’ debut book of poetry, Little What, was published by Lily Poetry Review Books in September 2019. A recipient of three Pennsylvania Council of the Arts fellowships, Oaks has published poems in a number of literary magazines, most recently in Field, Georgia Review, Missouri Review, Superstition Review, and Tupelo Quarterly.  His work has appeared in the anthologies The Familiar Wild: on Dogs and Poetry, Brief Encounters: A Collection of Contemporary Nonfiction, and My Diva: 65 Gay Men on the Women Who Inspire Them. He teaches writing at the University of Pittsburgh.

Jeff Oaks