Start reading A Clown at Midnight: Poems on the free Kindle Reading App or on your Kindle in under a minute. Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here.
Start reading this book in under 60 seconds
Read anywhere, on any device

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Enter a promotion code
or gift card
 
 
 

Try it free

Sample the beginning of this book for free

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

A Clown at Midnight: Poems
 
See larger image
 

A Clown at Midnight: Poems [Kindle Edition]

Andrew Hudgins
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

Digital List Price: $14.95 What's this?
Print List Price: $14.95
Kindle Price: $9.99
You Save: $4.96 (33%)

Free Kindle Reading App Anybody can read Kindle books—even without a Kindle device—with the FREE Kindle app for smartphones, tablets and computers.

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.

Formats

Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition $9.99  
Paperback $12.46  
Save up to 85% Off Kindle Books
Choose from more than 400 Kindle books up to 85% off from popular genres including mystery & thriller, romance, science fiction & fantasy, non-fiction, children's & teens, and more. This deal is only available through October 5, 2014. Shop now

Book Description

“Recklessness and rigor, in equal measure, mark the stirring poetics of Andrew Hudgins in this fine new book. Hudgins can wrestle a rhyme scheme into submission with one hand tied behind his back and can penetrate the black heart of history with a single, subtly rendered detail. He laughs with Democritus and weeps with Heraclitus and, line by distillate line, contrives a tonic antidote to “the acetone / of American inattention.” — Linda Gregerson

In A Clown at Midnight Andrew Hudgins offers a meditation on humor with a refreshing poignancy and cutting wit. He touches on love and nature, but at its core this collection is about the consolations and terrors, the delights and discomforts, of laughter, taking its title from a quote by Lon Chaney Sr.: “The essence of true horror is a clown at midnight.” Skillfully probing paradoxes, Hudgins conjures the titular clown: “Down these mean streets a bad joke walks alone / bruised head held low, chin tucked in tight, eyes down / defiant. He laughs and it turns to a moan.” Hudgins gives us utter honesty and accessible verse, exploring moments both uncomfortable and satirical while probing the impulse to confront life’s most demanding trials with laughter.

“Hudgins’s poems are often funny, hinging on a joke or wisecrack or malapropism, but human nature red in tooth and claw has always been his greatest theme.” — BookPage


Editorial Reviews

About the Author

ANDREW HUDGINS is the author of seven books of poems, including Saints and Strangers, The Glass Hammer, and most recently Ecstatic in the Poison. A finalist for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, he is a recipient of Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships as well as the Harper Lee Award. He currently teaches in the Department of English at Ohio State University.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

A Joke Is Washed Up on a Desert Island

A joke is washed up on an island,
miles of coarse, brown grit
and a few bent palms. He’s thrilled. Alone,
he’ll stroll the beach or sit
 
mulling the gray surf and his life.
He believes he’s kept the sacred
sacred by profaning it.
But words and stories sped
 
so quickly from his raucous mouth
he hardly thought about them.
Alone, he’ll study doubts he’s had
since on a dubious whim
 
he swaggered into that first brothel,
first bar and first bar mitzvah,
first monastery. What angry hope
or compulsive mania
 
flung him on the judgment of friends
and strangers: a laugh or silence?
He’d never paused to mull things over,
and though thinking’s a nuisance,
 
it’s time to think. He sits, considers,
and the teasing sea deposits
a naked beauty at his feet — 
a movie star. Huge tits?
 
Or small? Full lips or thin? You
 choose.
Whatever turns your crank,
that’s what floats up. And then two more,
beautiful, blond, and blank.
 
They swirl around him, asking, “Is that
a banana in your pocket?”
Smart women whoring for a joke!
And all at once he gets it:
 
the human cost of laughter. It pains him.
The people he’s offended,
they’re human, unlike him, a concept
he’d never comprehended — 
 
a reverie of thick self-pity
that’s broken by a shout
of “Help me! Help me!” from the waves.
Annoyed, the joke swims out
 
and finds an armless, legless man
bobbing in the spray.
“I’m Bob. Remember me?” Bob shouts.
The joke saves him anyway.
 
The joke has always hated Bob,
the lamest slip of wit,
and now Bob’s propped on the joke’s beach,
choking and spraying spit.
 
The joke stares down the empty sand,
listening hopelessly
for the peace he’d hoped to find. He drags
Bob back into the sea.
 
At first Bob bobs, but head held under,
he blubbers, bubbles, drowns.
This joke’s a killer. He looks out to sea,
sees what he sees, and frowns.
 
The waves are pitching with old punch lines,
washing, like Natalie Wood,
ashore. They couldn’t live without him,
although he’d hoped they could.
 
As each one staggers from the waves,
it asks, “Where’s Bob?” The joke
says, “He’ll turn up.” Why are they asking?
Who cares about that jerk?
 
He’s got to blow this island, man.
He jumps into the sea.
But he’s my joke. I send a shark
and the shark chomps off one knee.
 
He keeps on kicking at the waves.
The shark chomps off both legs.
“Very funny!” screams the joke. “So now
I’m Bob. Come on,” he begs.
 
“Let me be Art!” Tear out this page
and pin it to your wall:
He’s Art. Or throw it on the floor.
Bingo, he’s Matt. Your call.
 
But I like the turning point of jokes.
He’ll bob, but he won’t sink.
Let’s leave him there to meditate.
The shark will help him think.
 
Three pale blonds gather on the beach
to watch him flail. In moonlight
their roots turn dark, their hair turns black.
Their eyes are old-moon white.
 
Birth of a Naturalist
 
Among moist bromeliads
I was bored, and the soft-fingered
ferns annoyed me like an aunt
touching my face and trailing
her fingers down my cheek.
What was I, a possession?
In the gift shop where I desired
nothing, a stranger confused
boredom for balked desire
and bought me a small pot
with a blunt nub, like a toad’s
brown snout, jutting
from dry soil. “Thank you,” I said.
“Thank you,” as I’d been taught,
and she departed, a plump whorl
of black hair and red scarves.
In my pocket, the pot rode
my thigh like a damp stone,
and because it was a secret,
my secret, I began to love it.
The next day the toad’s
tumescent snout, now mossy green,
cracked the packed dirt.
On the windowsill a rickety stalk
rose and kept rising, rising
until it fell into my bed,
and with the toppled orchid in my arms,
I slept until Mother’s laughter
woke me, and I was shamed.
Again in secret, I tucked
its roots in spongy humus
beyond our lawn, where, spindly
and limp-leafed, it dwindled.
Now when I stretch out
over its absence, the coarse
vigor of its killers cushions me,
and I see the lost
orchid animating bracken,
buckthorn, buttercup, and bramble.
Morning glory overclimbs it all,
green on green, blaring
its beautiful and murderous
alabaster trumpets
while twizzling vines unfurl,
spin in sunlight, and, clutching,
caress my face.

First Year Out of School
A man . . . may have wild birds in an aviary; these in one sense he possesses, and in another he has none of them.
          — Plato, Theaetetus

I fingered flannel shirts
and wrinkled seed potatoes,
derelict in dusty bins,
but bought a birdcage,
white paint peeling off
corroded wire. For weeks
it crowded my bedside table
until, walking to work,
I heard baby rabbits
mewing in a hole. Later,
at my desk, I watched a crow
ferry three gray lumps
to an oak limb and pick them
into red strings. In one
imagined life, I caught
that crow and taught it Blake —
Little Lamb, who made thee?
In another, I gleaned raw corn
from nearby fields at night,
fed it to the strident crow,
and every night after work
cleaned its fetid cage.
In this life, I sold the cage
for a quarter what I paid,
and moved to a city where,
on the street one Monday morning,
a man chanted, “Spare
change, spare change,
spare change,” so rote
that like everyone before me
I didn’t bother saying no.
I was no different. Why then
did he block my path
and offer me a matted,
damp, dark thing —
a hatchling half held,
half nestled in his beard?
And why did I linger over
the unfledgeable lump?
“No,” I said, pushing past,
but after an hour I returned
and with five grubby ones
paid for the epiphany
he’d led me to: I yearn for flight,
but believe in the two
reliable slow feet
on which I stood, receiving
from his hands unto mine
a gasping, unsalvable mouth.

Product Details

  • File Size: 184 KB
  • Print Length: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; 1 edition (June 11, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00B0SCFFY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,087,464 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
  •  Would you like to give feedback on images?.


Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
(24)
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Critic Linda Gregerson, in commenting on this new book of poems by prize winning poet Andrew Hudgins, `Recklessness and rigor, in equal measure, mark the stirring poetics of Andrew Hudgins in this fine new book. Hudgins can wrestle a rhyme scheme into submission with one hand tied behind his back and can penetrate the black heart of history with a single, subtly rendered detail. He laughs with Democritus and weeps with Heraclitus and, line by distillate line, contrives a tonic antidote to "the acetone / of American inattention." Andrew Hudgins offers a meditation on humor with a refreshing poignancy and cutting wit. He touches on love and nature, but at its core this collection is about the consolations and terrors, the delights and discomforts, of laughter, taking its title from a quote by Lon Chaney Sr.: "The essence of true horror is a clown at midnight."

It may take the reader some time to `catch' Hudgins tunes, but once the cadence is set and appreciated the seemingly loose thought in his poetry become very pointed and purposeful. Much of what this book contains is hinted in the title poem and it is shared here:
A CLOWN A MIDNIGHT
Down these mean streets a bad joke walks alone,
bruised head held low, chin tucked in tight, eyes down,
defiant. He laughs and it turns to a moan.

His wife left years ago, and his kids all groan,
claim they have never heard of him, and frown.
Down these mean streets a bad joke walks alone,

jiving with fat whores in the combat zone
and moving on each time they put him down.
Defiant, he laughs though it turns to a moan -

a sense of humor turning on its own
sick pivot. He knows you think he's just a clown.
Down these mean streets a bad joke walks alone.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What does a clown do at midnight? June 10, 2013
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The performance is over; the applauding audience is now asleep at home, dreaming of fire eaters, trapeze artists, and dancing elephants. So what does a clown do at midnight?

Down these mean streets a bad joke walks alone,
bruised head held low, chin tucked in tight, eyes down,
defiant. He laughs and it turns into a moan.

His wife left years ago, and his kids all groan,
claim they have never of him, and frown,
Down these mean streets a bad joke walks alone...

What does a clown do after midnight? He uses rhyme, and homonyms, poetic lines all ending in the same sound, a "new formalism" that seems almost offhand, deliberately careless, but still very tightly structured and controlled.

"A Clown at Midnight: Poems" is Andrew Hudgins's new collection, officially published today by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Hudgins, who teaches at Ohio State University, has a considerable number of works behind him. He's been a finalist for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, and a recipient of fellowships from Guggenheim and the National Endowment for the Arts.

And in this collection, he's assembled a broad array of poems, ranging from the dark to the playful, from the humorous to the deadly serious, often mixing these elements to create a work that is both entertaining and provocative.

Some of the poems, like "Now and Almost Now," are beautiful in their simplicity:

Under dawn light,
cars glow, and a paper
heavy with yesterday,
reposes on the walk.
A boy plodding
toward a bus quickens
to a differential jog.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the idiot's frightful laughter May 18, 2013
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
quoting the french novelist rabelais, henry miller, who wrote a book about a clown for hallmark, was fond of saying as one of his mottos: For all your ills, I give you laughter.

just how far someone is willing to carry laughter is the concern that went into the making of many of these poems, but not all of them. there are boyhood poems and funeral poems about persons important in the poet's life in which laughter and the sly joke are not evident.

lon chaney's quote: The essence of true horror is a clown at midnight' is loosely explored by the poet. this title poem as formal pun as joke turns villain into villanelle, and a man's formal and former life takes a tragic turn which could be called horrible.

hudgins writing directly of laughter and the joke, does not spare us crudity or the incredulous, whether nuanced in A Joke is Washed up on a Desert Island, where hovering between the lines is the ghost of every sick and insulting joke adolescent boys discover as maps to manhood, or bluntly in Stalin's Laughter at the antics of an executioner describing a man pleading for his life before the executioner kills him.

Suddenly Adult shows the poet coming of age, and he who with subtlety puns on villanelle, tongue in cheek easily suggests his audacious humility: O good/Father Hopkins, a goad/unto this laggard, /and better Herbert, a guide/I dream of following, I am glad,/and so, I think, I am glad,/and so, I think, is God,/to let the Lord's assumption glide.' ... alliteratively to add to hopkins and herbert, hudgins.

or to take to yeats' Wild Swans of Coole, gwendolyn brooks' incisive We Real Cool: `We real cool. We/Left school. We/Lurk late. We/Strike straight. We/Sing sin. We/ Thin gin. We/Jazz June. We/Die soon.' ... and carve out The Wild Swans Skip Coole: We beat wings,/fly rings. We/scorn Yeats. We/have mates. We/won't stay. We/fly `way.'
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful collection
This is one of the finest books of American poetry I've read in some time. I look forward to reading others by Hudgins. Bravo!
Published 11 months ago by Ernest Hilbert
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Collection of Poetry
The author's different voice and imagination lights up each page as you read through A Clown at Midnight, the poetry here sure to appeal to anyone.
Published 13 months ago by Jamie Wilson
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving.
I deeply enjoyed these heart-rending poems. They are, so many of them (like so many poems) quite sad or melancholy, yet they sing of lives lived )perhaps amid tensions and sorrow)... Read more
Published 13 months ago by L. Perry
5.0 out of 5 stars Melancholy, well-crafted, and enjoyable
This is a very polished volume of somewhat melancholy poetry.

The author is obviously very much in love with poetry and sometimes treats the writing of a poem as a sort... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Margaret Picky
4.0 out of 5 stars Impressive
This is a collection of poems by Andrew Hudgins. While I am not an expert in poetry form or construction, I was still able to enjoy this volume of poetry featuring a variety of... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Carol Toscano
4.0 out of 5 stars Varied collection but not excessively
Hudgins and, perhaps, the editing team did an excellent job of compiling a varied collection of poems that also maintain a cohesion. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Ashley Mott
5.0 out of 5 stars Life and Death with a little humor and nostalgia
While reading this assortment of poems by Andrew Hudgins, I often was stopped upon seeing repeated uses of "moan," "mown," "groan," or "grown" in his prose. Read more
Published 13 months ago by zhabazon
4.0 out of 5 stars Lon Chaney And Humor
I am trying to do better with poetry. I used to dislike reading short stories now I love them so why not start reading poetry too? Read more
Published 14 months ago by Lynn Ellingwood
4.0 out of 5 stars Some darkly humorous ... Many lovely
I'm a relative beginner with poetry, but while I find my way overall, I'm eager to look at contemporary poets and was attracted to this collection from Hudgins, described as... Read more
Published 14 months ago by emmejay
5.0 out of 5 stars To be savored two or three at a time
This isn't a book that you can just read through and experience. It's to be taken in short snatches and thought about. You'll find the essence of dark humor here. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Neal Reynolds
Search Customer Reviews
Search these reviews only

More About the Author

Andrew Hudgins is the author of seven books of poems, including SAINTS AND STRANGERS, THE GLASS HAMMER, and ECSTATIC IN THE POISON. A finalist for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, he is a recipient of Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships as well as the Harper Lee Award. He currently teaches in the Department of English at Ohio State University.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?


Forums

There are no discussions about this product yet.
Be the first to discuss this product with the community.
Start a new discussion
Topic:
First post:
Prompts for sign-in
 


Look for Similar Items by Category