Louis McKee (born July 31, 1951, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, died November 21, 2011) has been a fixture of the Philadelphia poetry scene since the early 70s. He is the author of Schuylkill County (Wampeter, 1982), The True Speed of Things (Slash and Burn, 1984), and fourteen other collections. More recently, he has published River Architecture: Poems from Here & There 1973-1993 (Cynic, 1999), Loose Change (Marsh River Editions, 2001), and a volume in the Pudding House Greatest Hits series. Gerald Stern has called his work “heart-breaking” and “necessary,” while William Stafford has written, “Louis McKee makes me think of how much fun it was to put your hand out a car window and make the air carry you into quick adventures and curlicues. He is so adept at turning all kinds of sudden glimpses into good patterns.” Naomi Shihab Nye says, “Louis McKee is one of the truest hearts and voices in poetry we will ever be lucky to know.”
Last night on the sports channel
I watched the rodeo.
Those cowboys have it right;
the best and the beauty of it.
The blackthorn was his father's,
a piece of Ireland
that the old man could still get his hands around
even as his hands grew weak,
Somewhere in Forster—was it Aspects of the Novel?—
there's something to the effect of,
How can I tell what I think till I see what I say?
I've always meant to check the quote, but I'm half afraid
The perfect American Beauty Rose,
is it diminished
by the slag heaps on Rt. 11, just west
of Scranton, or by the dark cloud