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Halfway Decent Sinners, Poems by Michael Cleary

Skinny-dipping, dancing, serving Mass, playing football, making love, boxing, attending to an injured child or stricken parent—these poems explore the body’s perfections and flaws, joys and pains. “Virtues/of submission” demanded by parochial school and religious dogma give way to an earthbound journey that is confused, rebellious, angry—but full of wonder and just plain fun. With help along the way from Picasso, Godzilla, The Lone Ranger, Sasquatch, and others, Halfway Decent Sinners embraces our “breathtaking/common world.”

Sample Poems by Michael Cleary

“Michael Cleary’s welcome second book continues his eloquent exploration of our flawed human condition. Vividly colored by his Catholic upbringing, these poems look with both passion and compassion at childhood, family, marriage, divorce, work and play. They form a hymn of praise for the flowers of life and love, despite (or perhaps because of) the serpent lurking in every garden.”—Peter Meinke

Halfway Decent Sinners. The title says it all—these deeply felt poems focus on the contradictory mixture of pleasure and guilt that make us human. Cleary acknowledges and celebrates our humanity in all its forms—the vulnerability of both the flesh and the spirit. He’s a natural storyteller with a twinkle in his eye, full of good humor and good will. The cast of characters that inhabit these poems are lively and memorable. Their complex human desires and frailties constantly butt up against the rigid structures of organized religion. While this rich, varied collection contains everything from the sacred to the profane, Cleary, like our best poets, has a definite fondness for the sacredly profane.”—Jim Daniels

ISBN 1933456191, 124 pages, $17.00

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