Kingdom Come

Estes Kingdom Come

Buy at Amazon / Buy at Eighth Day Books

Published by C&R Press, 2011

These are the poems of the perplexed. More specifically, they are the poems of the perplexed but good-humored, the perplexed but well disposed—an all but forgotten species of intellectual whose lineage includes Chesterton, Orwell, and Lippman. They are, more over, poems that tread domestic life—life in common—with due respect, and with intermittent awe. John Estes has employed a remarkable range of learning, and remarkable skill in shaping these lines, and pressing them into service. —Scott Cairns

John Estes’ poems—precise, quizzical, erudite, playful—remind us of the revelatory work wit can do when matched with a sensuous mind. —Michelle Glazer

At their best, the poems of John Estes’ debut full-length collection, Kingdom Come, illustrate a magical ability to balance three, four, even five impulses simultaneously. He also displays a deft hand at narrative structure throughout the book. In fact, Kingdom Come embraces the arc of modern suburban male identity in the late twentieth/early twenty-first century as its overall narrative. Estes, in subdued tones that speak to the bottom line we’re often overlooking in the fine print of our lives, in lines too shocked to consider tools like enjambment, so effortlessly (and refreshingly) shows us the fluidity between the self and the world, the current events of the heart and the current events of the headlines, what Whitman liked to call the “me” and “not me.” —Jay Robinson Barn Owl Review

In this collection, Estes creates a familiar story arc, describing a man who seeks art and love, gets married, becomes a father, and reevaluates his relationship to art and love as he tends to his growing family. The poems that address these themes are precise, heartfelt, playful, and elegant in their construction. Throughout these poems, Estes grapples with the domestic banality of crying babies and bodily fluids while recognizing that these things add up to something more than the sum of their parts. In Estes’ capable hands, the quotidian leads to the sublime, and what once felt disparate and adversarial becomes a moment of attained wisdom. Kingdom Come is full of such moments. It is a collection not to be missed, and a great gift for dads deeply involved in the day-to-day domestic grandeur. —Ginny Kazmarek, Literary Mama

‘This gospel of loneliness says / Two pleasures endure: / those of the flesh / and those of the writing desk.’ With these opening lines, we are ushered into the alternating rhythms of John Estes’s poetry, its delicious balance between the playful and the profound, between ordinary life–that profusion of conjugal love, sleepless toddlers, and broken plumbing that inspired Virginia Woolf’s plea for ‘a room of one’s own’–and the kind of insight that can only spring, Athena-like, from the writer’s solitary mind. Gifted with an irreverent humor, Estes revels in the absurdities of domestic life (‘I contest the equation…that a nursery / is where babies sleep / not where babies get made’) and conjures up Dickinson and Plath to get himself through birthing classes. Before we’re done laughing, however, he’s pried up the melancholy edge of that same life with its misunderstandings (‘we practice our perfection / the way a buzzard, / when it believe no one listens / will crash through the branches / and attack, attack, attack’), miscarriages (‘our lost baby, our would-be who would-not-be / who will miss the seventh moon’s expected swell / but asks for no condolences’), and the inevitable ‘breaking of all that is breakable.’ Within the taut lines of Kingdom Come, life’s disparate possibilities crumble and reunite again to form a tenuous harmony, an ironic, unexpected joy. —Eighth Day Books