American Selfie, Curtis Bauer


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In this beautifully balanced, elegiac book Curtis Bauer revisits the American sublime and restores to us, in our battered, bewildered moment, its clarity and dignity and honor. These are poems of an enduring human accuracy and a restrained, muted joy.
—Vijay Seshadri

“Bauer’s lens looks back on personal history, as well our collective need to be seen as a means of being, making American Selfie self-reflection at its lyrical best. Bauer fearlessly walks to the borders then crosses them. Everything he touches touches us, and is given space here… grackles, sidewalks, the constancy of dogs, alleys and horizons, tumbleweeds, prickly pears, the insistence of passion where dust and its implication of endings inundate everything. Bauer ‘is on a road without a name’… and we want to walk it with him.”
—Vievee Francis

from Curtis Bauer's new collection ???????? ??????: 'but the night was so deep/ she must have thought the air/ holds an echo, maybe thought/ of someone who had passed/ hours before scenting the alley/ fence, or an announcement/ of… Click To Tweet

Selfie with Wind

I was invisible today and I spoke
long, eloquent sentences
no one heard. The oak leaves
shimmered and shrugged
off the heat. It could have been
dust speaking my name
or the deep breath of prickly pear
before it burst another bud
from its spikes, but the wind didn’t
touch my back, tussle my hair.
It was an empty word and I am empty
like an oil drum rusting
in the fence line of a back field
brittle, dented, more empty
than an excuse given as
an afterthought or permission.
Tonight a dog kissed my wrist.
She was the first to address me
but the night was so deep
she must have thought the air
holds an echo, maybe thought
of someone who had passed
hours before scenting the alley
fence, or an announcement
of a man approaching inside the dark.


Curtis Bauer is the author of Fence Line (BkMk Press, 2004) and The Real Cause for Your Absence (C&R Press 2013). His translations include: Eros Is More (Alice James Books, 2014), by Juan Antonio González Iglesias; From Behind What Landscape (Vaso Roto Editions, 2015), by Luis Muñoz; and Image of Absence by Jeannnette Clariond (Word Works, 2018). His work has appeared in Tin House, The Literary Review, Two Lines and The American Poetry Review, among others. He is Translations Editor for The Common Magazine and he teaches Creative Writing and Comparative Literature at Texas Tech University.