Jeff Walt | Soot

Soot. Keystone Chapbook Series, Number 5. Co-winner of the 2009 Keystone Chapbook Prize, selected by guest judge Karen J. Weyant:

“Jeff Walt’s collection is filled with dirt, grit and dust. These tough poems squint in the bright light but focus, fear both real and imaginary dangers but still face the day, fall but get up to brush themselves off and move on. Make no mistake. This is not a collection of love poems, but there’s love here, hidden in the cracks of sidewalks, in the fur of an old alley cat, even in the aisles of an adult store.”

Soot_web coverPublished: January 31, 2010 [125 copies]
Second printing: April, 2010 [100 copies]
Third printing: July, 2011 [100 copies]
27 pages. Each copy is inked in its own unique fingerprint design.
ISBN-13: 978-0-9825529-3-3

Jeff Walt was born and raised in Clearfield, Pennsylvania, a rural community of railroad workers, bricklayers, and strip miners. His poems have appeared in numerous journals, including The Gay & Lesbian Review, Inkwell, New Millennium Writings, Clackamas Literary Review, Bamboo Ridge, Bay Windows, and Connecticut Review; and in several anthologies, including Gents, Bad Boys, & Barbarians: New Gay Male Poetry (Alyson Publications, 1995), The Poets’ Grimm: Twentieth Century Poems from Grimm Fair Tales (Story Line Press, 2003), Intimate Kisses: The Poetry of Sexual Pleasure (New World Library, 2001); and in his chapbook What I Didn’t Know, from the chapbook anthology Passionate Lives (Queen of Swords Press, 1998). His first full-length collection, The Danger in Everything, was published in 2001 by Mad River Books. He now lives in Honolulu where he facilitates poety workshops through the University of Hawaii Outreach.

Smokers on Break 

Reeking of nicotine, coatless
in the cold, we lounge
in a doorway,

a few scant minutes
of kinship and bitching.
Nooses loosen and halos dissolve–  

smoke shaking its hips
from tips of cigarettes
like a genie escaping 

her bottle. We wish
for tanned, tropical lives,
but get the office

carpet, frayed and stained, tired
Muzak droning down
the halls. Between puffs and sighs,

we fantasize
of sitting eight hours in bodies
that won’t weep 

for codeine, scheme excuses
to call in sick, rehearse
scratchy voices 

as we choke down hits
of swirling, conspiring joy.
Soon we’ll go back

to our cubicles, framed faces
of kids, lovers we seldom see;
back to glaring

computer screens and the demanding
ring of telephones where we’ll clamp down
with headsets, longing 

for our discarded loves
lying on the hard pavement,
each bright eye slowly fading.

See also:

  • Jeff’s website here

Please click here to purchase Jeff’s chapbook.

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