Poetry The Upper New Review

Four Poems: Jim Minick

We are happy to announce our first publication by the Upper New Review – Four Poems by Jim Minick. We believe you will enjoy all four poems, and we would love to know your thoughts.

Table Of Contents

To Spoon

by Jim Minick

To spoon is not to fork— 
that’s what we do to steaks 
and roads and manure.
To fork is to pierce, penetrate, puncture. 
To fork is to split and branch,
to pay up and cough out,
but also to tune.
We forklift crates. We pitchfork hay. 
The devil never carries a spoon.
Can you bang forks and get a song?
To spoon is not to knife—
that’s what we do too often
to bodies and silence.
To knife is to slice,
to stab and wound,
to skin, filet, and butcher.
To knife is to dam
water that once
spooned the land.
Can you play knives without getting hurt?
Yet the tool is innocent:
a fork feeds or gigs;
a spoon ladles soup or cooks H—
and a knife? To scalp
and to scalpel
both require a sharp blade.
Listen to the drumming of the spoons.
To spoon is to slip into sleep
and the same soft, slow breath,
To listen to the rain
with one ear.

Earth Diving

by Jim Minick

Ray needs no goggles,
no snorkel, no tank, no wetsuit
for his Boxer-Bull, all muscle, all focused self. 
Besides, the goggles wouldn’t work—
the cleft between his eyes
that’s like a sliding board for my thumb
is too deep for such gear.
He swims these woods just fine
in his own fierce and goofy way,
chasing chipmunks and black bears,
following the currents of luxurious smells.
When Ray finds something good
like the slimy rot of a dead squirrel,
or the fresh green ooze of calf pie,
or his favorite—crawdad-inflected, fish-scale glittered, neatly deposited
otter shit—he doesn’t roll like most dogs, he dives—head down, shoulder leading, quick, again and again, the only way
to rub that odiferous joy
into just the right spot—
a smear from jowl to ear,
from cheek to neck,
a perfume no bottle can hold,
no towel can wipe away.
And why should my pal Jim
be yelling so much?
He need not be jealous.
I’d gladly share.

Ode to a Basket

by Jim Minick

Two reeds to hold the shape
of your hands, two turning
to four turning to eight
turning to something to hold
the loneliness
I want to carry away
to bury or to burn.
A basket is never empty.
Hunger is another name
for basket. To market we journey
loaded with expectation,
our punnets filled with red
of pepper and strawberry,
red of Pontiac, red of desire.
A basket is never full.
This summer I cracked a rib,
and the basket of my body
turned fragile, the contents
unsure of its weavers and spokes. 
To laugh hurt. To breathe
hurt. The ache at night
for your touch hurt.
If I weave
my fingers with yours, 
we can hold
for a little while
that loneliness, that hurt.

Hawk Says Finally

by Jim Minick

Once in the gap between hills
Hawk hovered against
hard blue sky for so long—
no twitch no strain each
muscle twining with wind
red tail coppering the sun—
the blustering air turned
Hawk into a cluster of stars
a sudden constellation
outshining Orion and Bear
a new god to kneel to
in song and prayer.

About Jim Minick

Photograph of Jim Minick

About the POET

Jim Minick

Jim Minick is the author or editor of eight books, including Without Warning: The Tornado of Udall, Kansas (nonfiction), The Intimacy of Spoons (poetry, forthcoming), Fire Is Your Water (novel), and The Blueberry Years: A Memoir of Farm and Family.

His work has appeared in many publications, including the New York Times, Poets & Writers, Oxford American, Orion, Shenandoah, Appalachian Journal, Wind, and The Sun.

He serves as Coeditor of Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel.

Jim’s home watershed (HUC) is South Fork Reed Creek-Reed Creek (050500010903). This means he is a resident creator.

His website is

By The Upper New Review

The Upper New Review is an environmental literary arts magazine based in the Upper New River basin, which intersects the states of North Carolina and Virginia in the United States of America in present-day North America. We are seeking out place-based creative works from all over the globe.