Magpie on the Gallows

Copper Canyon Press, 1982

Magpie at the Gallows

“These strong, brilliantly close knit poems are rich, peppery, as sweetly and thickly pitted as a bush full of blackberries. Humming and flashing like a whole colony of iridescent beetles, they are serious, intelligent, intricately worked poems full of painful honesty, jaunty flickerings of humor, and an abidingly clear-sighted view of ‘the gallows’ we are all headed for. In a kind of modern distillation of the heavier, gutsier rhythms of Gerard Manley Hopkins, they speak most often with the hard accurate blows of a small hammer. The worlds they create are pointilliste: large areas built up out of the precisely focused ‘spots’ of a ballet dancer’s spin. The words they use are checkered, whorled, elegantly real, born out of the plum colored, beetle lit orchards of a life committed to God and man. So many wonders here, so many interesting, satisfying complicated poems! Each one is as passionate as it is precise, lovingly rooted in the responsibilities of an imagination which permits no easy answers, ever.”
–Patricia Goedicke

“Brilliant lines and richness of texture combine to convey the explosive energy of Madeline DeFrees’ ideas. The fact that here is a poet of depth, of intellect, never dims the delight the reader feels. In its dashing display of wit, of transforming imagery, of allusion, of puns and word play, the poetry of Madeline DeFrees, already acclaimed, moves toward ever widening freedom and ease in the art.”
–Ann Stanford