Gentle Man



(Red Hen Press, 2001, 80pp. ISBN: 1-888996-33-1)


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The Gentle Man


Broken Hearts


The Love Prayer

Baby Harold


The Day the House Moved Away

Parker’s Law

In Albany Love


The Poet Speaks of Desire

Jersey Air

The Girl You Love to Hate

Photograph (circa 1960)

So Much Like Marie

What I Could Have Been


The Chief

Five Blind Boys

Dream House

Winter’s Night

Chemistry Experiment


The Good Life

So What


Your Father’s Ghost

This Case for You


The Plaintive Angel


Nursery of Lies

Hair Care

Only a Game



Poetry (In Motion)

Doctors of Letters

The Locomotive to Hell

Dangerous Curve


Love Story

The Cost of Being Me


Losing Olivia

Reaching for Heaven


Last Request


The Gentle Man

Last Request




The poems in The Gentle Man were composed between 1999 and 2001.  The title poem speaks to those of us who seek to simplify our lives by enriching what it is we give to others, especially what we offer them in kindness and devotion.  If the very act of love is patient and wise, then those who are fortunate enough to receive it are blessed by its gift and know, quite naturally, what to offer in return.

And yet, when that love somehow cannot be met through blindness, happenstance, history, remorse, or sorrow, we are habitually haunted by past apparitions who remind us that our need for affection, and a place called home, is an inclination not easily forgotten.  Be they “Broken Heats,” “Photograph (circa 1960),” “Your Father’s Ghost,” “Last Request,” or “Locomotive to Hell,” these poems address what it means to constantly search for meaning both inside and outside of ourselves—to travel down tracks in an attempt to discover or rediscover our identity.  By doing so, we examine what went wrong in our testament to friendship and love and how we can still approach the longing and desire that resides in each of us, applying for “Forgiveness” as a starting point.

If by the mere act of consequence, we can keep the solemn prayer alive—this striving for peace through reconciliation, then we ultimately retain a chance at the relief that so often escapes us and keeps us at bay with ourselves along the dangerous curves we face.  Perhaps, then, “The Cost of Being Me” will not be so great, the sacrifice so difficult to bear, as we turn the bedcovers down and read the next page of the book we continue to write, night after night after night.  And in the end, hopefully, certainly mercifully, we come to understand that “The Gentle Man” and what he entails is all we’ve ever wished to know—and become.



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"So much in our life asks us to speed up, to charge ahead.  These poems ask something else—take some time here, and then come back and sit again.  Thankfully, the subsequent visits are well worth the effort."
—Eloise Klein Healy


"Not quite like any other poetry I’ve read… Bart Edelman’s complex and inexhaustible song in The Gentle Man concerns the admission that “What I really know about love/Could never amount to much.” With this as a given, we experience a poetry of “ultimate shadow”: lovers only playing house, ghosts arriving at our front doors, lovers simultaneously stealing and giving.  The gentle man yearns for a bat’s instinct of echolocation so that he can steer clear of misery, but collides with walls of desire and loss that seem part of our inner-architecture.  Reading this unexpected, unusual, troubling book, I kept thinking of Emerson’s “Up again, old heart!”  And my deep anxieties were answered with poetry."
—William Heyen