The moon, not the finger, pointing (Out of Print)


by Steven Schroeder

This collection is a sort of memoir – 67 lyric poems that trace the course of a life from the Texas Panhandle through Chicago to China and back, with the window open "because everybody knows / by now there is a poem out there." In Chicago, "a street musician / plays Vivaldi on violin not two blocks from / a kid shaking a cup half full of coins, / keeping time to Public Enemy, / still fighting the power / on an old boom box" and an encounter with two cops asking after " a woman in red talking crazy" ends with "a solemn vow to speak truth / to power, to tell all // next time an armed patrol stops me / to ask about speaking in public / and what I see when I hear it." In Shenzhen, "we wander slowly through / a long talk on cracks in neo- // liberal cities where artists live. / A friend of friends says / strong German beer / has made her dizzy and I look // like Marx." Along the way, "Every common road is / lined with recollection." Reading Arkansas Testament in a bar in Springfield, Missouri, "the sound sense of a sentence / I think might be Mingus creeps in / between Walcott's invocation / of Richard Pryor and / his Newark, the appearance of a messiah / nowhere more evident than on every corner / here as he says it is there-and // hearing Hampton's vibraphone rising / from a sea of sound that signifies nothing, / I believe." And in the end, "The hand / evolved for nothing, the way / the universe turns. It is // what it has done, what / it does, what it will / do. It is // the moon, not / the finger, // pointing."

Order from any bookstore, local or online. This title is also available from Fleur Fine Books of Galveston, Texas. 

About the Author


Steven Schroeder is a poet and visual artist who spent many years moonlighting as a philosophy professor — most often in interdisciplinary settings, most recently at the University of Chicago Graham School. He studied at the University of Chicago (where he received a Ph.D. in Ethics and Society in 1982) and Valparaiso University (where he received a B.A. in Psychology in 1974).

He grew up on the High Plains in the Texas Panhandle, and that is where he first learned to take nothing seriously. Emptiness plays an important role in both his poetry and his painting. He says, "I often find myself spending as much time on what is not there as on what is. This usually means focusing on a single image and letting the whole composition spring up around it — not a narrative but an all at once that evokes a here and now that is, here, now, neither. A likely story is likely to grow out of this when readers and viewers encounter it, but I hope my art always invites more than it contains."

Visit the artist's web site