Release Date: February 1, 2014
Civil Coping Mechanisms
A fast-moving fusion of microfiction and free verse that peers into the places where people keep things most deeply hidden.
– Kirkus Reviews
Leaving: a door closes on feelings, darker out there. Blackness, but somehow enables me to shine.
From this dark hallway I see roses in the moonlight.
The soft streetlight against the stars.
They have not forgotten me.
Upon leaving, a self-conscious, thwarted, last attempt to grasp a passing wave. Ride it to the shore:
A failed attempt.
A deep sense of false pride. An aching troubled fit creeps along the path to the street.
The front yard screams at you.
And the car.
And the buttons on your shirt.
Leaving: Yes, I am leaving.
Still, you might have the chance to get there before me.
“Drawing its energy from society’s underbelly—the dim corner booths of bars, the stalls of public bathrooms, the thickets of unkempt parks—Vaughan’s book is part prose poem, part fractured sonnet, part Whitmanian love-cry. ‘What were your last thoughts, Ophelia? Were / you loved enough? Will I ever know when I am?’ When this poet speaks, we are compelled by the plaintive urgency of eros in his voice. On the edge of a low-lit Interstate highway somewhere between Los Angeles and New York City, Addicts & Basements yawps and pivots and veers, praising its own wreckage.”
—Dorianne Laux, author of The Book of Men
“Robert Vaughan’s poems are peopled with painfully human characters, depicted with an unnerving authenticity and irreverent compassion. In ‘Turkey Town,’ a young man working a wedding banquet sneaks out back when the father-of-the-bride dance begins because he misses his own father: ‘The cold hurt my lungs, made it hard to breathe.’ In ‘The Patio,’ patrons are ‘sucking down margaritas’ and ‘gnawing chips’ at an outdoor restaurant when there’s a car crash and they become witnesses to the scene. In ‘Bonus Question,’ a woman calls into a late-night radio quiz, but instead of giving an answer, she asks,‘Will you love me?’ The deejay is unmoved, but the poet says: ‘Somewhere, lying in the darkness … someone who has never seen her face whispers yes.’ These are poems to break your heart, but Robert Vaughan is always whispering ‘yes.’”
—Ellen Bass, author of The Human Lin
ROBERT VAUGHAN leads writing roundtables at Redbird-Redoak Writing. His writing has appeared in hundreds of print and online journals. His short prose, “10,000 Dollar Pyramid” was a finalist in the Micro-Fiction Awards 2012. Also,“Ten Notes to the Guy Studying Jujitsu” was a finalist for the Gertrude Stein Award 2013. He is senior flash fiction editor at JMWW, and Lost in Thought magazines. His poetry chapbook, Microtones, is from Červená Barva Press. His second chapbook, Diptychs + Triptychs+ Lipsticks + Dipshits is from Deadly Chaps.