Cover for Esse
  • Series: Modern & Contemporary 55
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-916272-70-8
  • ISBN-10: 0-916272-70-2
  • Pages: 74
  • Size: 6 x 8 x .25 in
  • Price: $12.95


David Mutschlecner

David Mutschlecner’s poetry embraces the moments in a daily worklife that permit entry into a complex of meditations on the largest and most unanswerable questions—into a private philosophical world that coexists with the everyday. As he draws on the works and visions of contemporary visual artists, the literary troves of Dickinson and Dante, the innocently profound questions of children, Mutschlecner crafts an approach to the infinity surrounding, but also within, each individual. Esse claims for poetry a way to explore beyond the end-limits of occurrence, toward something/ whose amplitude/ does not imply/ vagueness, but concision/ and clarity: light/ in the fissures, light/ in the gold-flecked clefts of the hills.

from Part 1



Stepping outside

the grocery, Valerie


began whistling.

The high clear tone



across the street


where her husband

heard her


and came down the steps

to meet her.






Two sentences intersected upon the same word from opposite

corners of a room. One sentence read silently from a book by

Etienne Gilson; one sentence spoken aloud in a conversation

about the grocery business. The word at the



  fell like a fluent

petal of flame




from Part 2



The form left


long deep cleft,

excoriated space—


Nail stains down

a picket fence—

irregular drips

along the level lines,

or the regular

rhythm of floor stones

cut across by the tilted

arc of pews

in a

circular sanctuary.



We say it would have worked out just as well

another way,

   but even this

is strange.


Against any

god of the gaps,

the form found full.



Copyright © 2002 by David Mutschlecner

“Trimmed like a sail toward its own origin, Esse rings with a spare precision. David Mutschlecner uses subtle sound relationships to polish the edges of his language and to accentuate its physicality. Returning always to the question of essence, but from constantly shifting angles, he manages to draw parallels between the living word and the living body, narrowing ever closer to ‘the inceptive name / where I too might again / be present.’ It’s a goal that, in its constant pulling back, pulls us onward. Mutschlecner brings us to its brink.” —Cole Swensen

David Mutschlecner is author of a previous collection, Veils (Stride Press, 1999), as well as the chapbook Qualities of Resonance (Paradox Press, 1990). His degrees from Indiana University and St. John's College in Santa Fe, New Mexico, reflect his continuing interest in Thomistic metaphysics and poetry. He lives in New Mexico and makes his living in the grocery business.