Reason’s Dream by Roger Mitchell


Sidney once called the poet “your right popular philosopher.” Like the poem, reason dreams of the truth, the good, the real. This book is in many ways about getting far enough away from the world to see it. While the view from an airplane gives us an easy angle from which to do that, so does kneeling on the grass and counting the deeply split petals of a tiny wildflower. As does trying to grab the flying coattails of a disappearing dream. This book is also about the world and going to it, the inescapable beauty and horror of it, the never being able or, in truth, wanting to be able to get away from it. Bright bulbous clouds with smudgy flat undersides. Confection and mud. Where reason and dream lie next to the plate like a pair of chopsticks. You need both to eat.


  • Kind: Perfectbound
  • Pages: 140
  • Language: English
  • Date Published: September, 2018
  • ISBN: 978-1-948017-19-0


The poems are poignant and intimate, but they’re also wonderfully brainy. Their self-scrutiny keeps them tough and lean.  —Chase Twichell

Roger Mitchell’s poems are superbly crafted—and at the same time always open to surprise and serendipity. The poems may begin in unassuming observation, but their ultimate aim is the clarity of thought that can only arise from a sensibility that is deeply self-aware but never self-important. These are wry, rueful, and subtly original poems—the work of a contemporary master. —David Wojahn

In Roger Mitchell’s sinuous new collection, he speaks of “a livable oblivion,” something “better than rapture,” where “The dog catches what it knows it can’t catch,” and something “keeps us rafting/this waterfall of urgencies/in a storm of interrupted calms.” This master poet who brought us Delicate Bait, in an earlier collection, raises the bar, here, again, illustrating the intense delights in the lyric moment, where the articulated self comes alive in the natural world. Mitchell has a gift for matching keen observations with sonic pleasures––and together, like so many blessings, his perspicacity quickly becomes our own. “You have to look/at something,” we learn, in one poem, one of the many lines that startle with logic and precision. Readers have much to look forward to in discovering the grace embedded in this book, poems that resonate with insight and beauty that is ticking like a clock. —Elaine Sexton



I must have wanted moles, the blind, dumb digging
underground. Anyway, I have them.
They work at night, if only because it’s dark
down there. I don’t know when they work, really.
If they have a cry, a grunt of satisfaction,
I’ve never heard it. If I ever saw one,
I wouldn’t know if it was mole or mud.
It’s nice, if sometimes threatening, to think
you wanted what you got. Like old age.
I got these mountains, too, and last year, moles,
a lawn with varicose veins. Some consider
wisdom a shield. Others, a threadbare garment
like an argument you never lose,
the one you spackle the sky with daily.


Roger MitchellRoger Mitchell is the author of eleven books of poetry, most recently The One Good Bite in the Saw-Grass Plant. His new and selected poems, Lemon Peeled the Moment Before, was published by Ausable Press in 2008. It won the Adirondack Center for Writing’s “Readers’ Choice Award” the following year. The University of Akron Press published his two previous books, Half/Mask, in 2007 and Delicate Bait, which Charles Simic chose for the Akron Prize, in 2003. Mitchell spent the largest part of his working life at Indiana University and for a time held its Ruth Lilly Chair of Poetry. Other recognition for his writing includes the Midland Poetry Award, the John Ben Snow Award for Clear Pond, a work of non-fiction, two fellowships each from the Indiana Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts, a Ruth Lilly Fellowship, the River Styx International Poetry Award, and Ren Hen Press’s Ruskin Art Club Award. He was a 2005 Fellow in Poetry from the New York Foundation for the Arts. Currently, he is Poetry Editor of the ezine Hamilton Stone Review and is writing a biography of the poet, Jean Garrigue. He and his wife, the fiction writer, Dorian Gossy, live in Jay, New York.

Additional information

Weight 10.5 oz
Dimensions 9 × 6 × .375 in