ghost on 3rd

by Jim Reese

88 Pages, 6 x 9

Library of Congress Control Number:  2009939408

ISBN:  978-1-935520-17-7

Publication Date:  01/15/2010

Press Release

Cover Art:  Two Heads in Cloudscape, 2001
by Bret Gottschall  |


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Jim Reese's newest collection, ghost on 3rd is riddled with love, latent violence, humor, and prison life. Critics who said that his last collection kicked "like an old pump-12 gauge" will be happy to find the barrels sawed off in this book. Reese shows no sign of putting the hammer down—he takes his reader on the daily routine and long nights that are an inescapable part of raising two small daughters—shows us how family is not a burden but a complex source of joy. Ride shotgun with him down the lonesome byways of the Great Plains westward into San Quentin prison, where he has full access and isn't afraid to ask the hard questions. Author John Price writes: "Reese's beautiful and powerful poems are born of 'wish and skin and bone,' of dirt and dignity, of faith and fry grease, of laughter and lament. To read them is to be carried to a place where risk is a promise fulfilled—whether it be the homing memory of a grandfather or eating suspicious pastries or raising children or teaching poetry to inmates. It is a place where the familiar opens into the extraordinary, and even, at times, the miraculous."


We call it the heartland but we seldom drop by for a visit. Jim Reese catches the dying fire of the small town wasteland that staggers on with meth, desire, and neglect. These loving poems open the door to the real little house on the prairie. Time to step inside and finally have one honest moment with the forgotten center of our people.

—Charles Bowden

Here's a poet of extraordinary talent who juxtaposes the voices of ordinary people with those of his young family. Reese is most moving, however, when he writes with tenderness about his wife and children, and the delicate place that the young husband and wife create for themselves in the midst of everyday small town life and in the odd, precious moments when their children don't need them. These poems will make you laugh and cry. Ghost on 3rd is one of the strongest books of poetry I’ve read in a very long time.

—Maria Mazziotti Gillan
winner of the 2008 American Book Award for ALL THAT LIES BETWEEN US

In Ghost on 3rd, everything is connected, and everything is fragile. In these poems, ordinary life with its children and neighbors crackles like a mirage, and shifts and opens, and we find we've been all along in San Quentin prison. What is it we just saw?—a five-year-old child swinging on the monkey bars, or a tattooed convict, crying? Reese's eye is the eye of a father, and he finds his world both alien and comforting. These are poems of praise and poems of warning, infused with love and latent violence. Reese makes us feel the threat throbbing inside the song.

—Kent Meyer