Complicated Thanks

Cindy Day

June 2023

Cindy Day’s first full-length collection of poetry is, simply put, a masterpiece. At her best in these pages, Day manages to take the conundrums of average experience and turn them inside out. Often her poems build quietly, lulling the reader, and then in their final lines turn a volta that would make even the best sonneteer jealous. The result is work that shows the day-to-day lives we live are never mundane.  

Praise for Complicated Thanks:

Cindy Day has the remarkable ability to examine the ordinary in life—a visit to a family homestead, a stop for coffee at a diner—in ordinary language that quietly achieves transcendence. These poems explore the span of a life, from childhood to the contemplation of mortality: honestly, fearlessly, and with astonishing tenderness.

Margaret Thickstun
Jane Watson Irwin Professor of Literature
Hamilton College

Around the things most precious to us in life—our innermost admissions, the nourishing images that have been with us since childhood, the familiar contours of pain that help shape our adult identities—around these precious inner treasures, we build a walled garden. In her new and deeply stirring collection, Complicated Thanks, Cindy Day has deliberately placed a ladder against the walled garden of her own inner life, allowing brave readers to peer over the edge, and look in. The effect on this reader of what he saw was nothing short of transformative.

Allen Guy Wilcox
Founder, Time’s Arrow Literature

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The Leopard

When delights spring out of our depths like leopards
our soul’s life is in danger.

Thomas Merton

The leopard seemed harmless
when he was sleeping.
All I want now is peace
you said so many times.

Amen, I said, I’ve had it
with running around.
I was wearing my straw hat
with the cherries on it,

you smoked your meerschaum,
I drank my Cotes du Rhone,
you liked your vocabulary
and altogether delighted

we walked around Green Lake
calling out the flowers’ names.
After about six months
of this we bought the house.

Next we sat on the patio
in the new lawn chairs
and admired the sun setting
over Syracuse, called it peace.

But the leopard was stretched
out beside us. He licked
himself clean beside us,
dozed and his content

rumbled in his chest.
He had fed lately on
passion and could wait.
He knew it would come again,

the desperation, and we,
having moved as usual
a little too fast, feeling
ourselves safe, god-like,

when we were only the same
two cranks in fancy clothes,
kept him as an exotic
pet, something wild

that would sleep on the patio.
To make a long story short
the leopard tore us to pieces,
ate us up. But you know that

and about all the regret.
The real story comes after,
the one about the soul.
Anyone can have a leopard.

Check out Cindy’s interview with Allen Guy Wilcox on Time’s Arrow Literature’s YouTube Channel.


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