Dark’s Channels, a chapbook from Iron Horse Literary Review, 2019. Winner of the 2018 Iron Horse Literary Review Chapbook Award.
Jed Myers’ Dark’s Channels begins and ends in sleepless nights. Throughout this collection, the insomniac itch of modern life keeps the speaker and the reader wide-awake in search of a better way to be wise-awake. Myers is cinematic in his range, panning from questions for the speaker’s ancestors (“What names did my blood wear / in the valleys, the Nile, Euphrates?”) to tragedy in Bangladesh to the multi-faceted tragedies of the American empire. Myers considers what it means to be American, to be a man, to be white as he meditates upon “the bone stadium” of the active shooter to the loose, flammable hate of our 24/7 news cycle. It is a long night in America and Myers can’t sleep through it.
Instead, he must travel through it. These poems are a log of the way the pilgrim soul walks. He turns the same empathetic, curious lens on himself that he uses on others, gazing at “the stranger who hides / inside all my life, the undocumented / guest of my breath…”. The poems go big—they twist and turn in the endless night of our environmental disaster, political situation, homelessness crisis, and rampant gun culture.
Dark may be a channel we can’t turn off, a channel that runs through us, but so too, this collection shows, is empathy. The power of the poet’s imagination is in full force here, showing us that if we tune in to empathy, we can be changed for the better. That being awake, however painful, is the best option. “Help the wind / peel from me the empire’s skin,” the poet implores.
“The remote are close,” Myers writes, and yet this is so only because these poems invite the remote in, because this marvelous poet has dared to step closer to the remote. This book teaches the reader to bring the remote close, and to find the meaning in the long, difficult hours between dusk and day.
—Rebecca Hoogs, author of Self-Storage, Curator for Seattle Arts & Lectures Poetry Series
Dark’s Channels is an exquisite chapbook of the heart. In pages filled with disturbance and longing, Jed Myers lays bare the darker side of identity. He ventures to the interior where “I keep my own secret / wrapped in its blackness,” and from there outward into others’ hearts, as, he discovers, “The dark has its channels.” A desperate brilliance runs through these poems. Their ruthlessness will draw you in. Their tenderness will slay you.
—Alexis Rhone Fancher, author of Junkie Wife, Poetry Editor for Cultural Weekly
Jed Myers is a hip flask of a poet, a soulful busker in a noisy pub that just won’t close down for the night. His poems flesh out noir settings and scenes, his stanzas are furnished in smoking jackets and heartache, like Tom Waits lingering over a baby grand. The poems in Dark’s Channels take aim at the separations tearing at us—self and society, night and day. They slide along earnestly and bring you into their steely confidence until, kapow, a switchblade of a line flashes forth to cut away all complacency. Reading these poems reminds me how often I feel like a stranger in my own life, “the undocumented / guest of my breath,” and that each of us depends on “love’s next tiny difference” to survive.
—Kevin Craft, author of Vagrants & Accidentals