“My focus, individually and collectively, is to bring out the best in others, that they may fulfill their potential, helping each seeker of life's purpose to be sought by that purpose.” – Elijah Imlay

Elijah Imlay’s first book of poems, Monsoon Blues, was published by Tebot Bach Press in 2011. He has conducted writing workshops for veterans of war through Poets & Writers, Inc. and PEN Center USA. He is the recipient of three Artist Fellowship Awards from the City of Ventura, California, has won honorable mentions for the 2006 Ruskin Art Club/Red Hen Press Award, the 2004 Robinson Jeffers Tor House Prize, and the 2002 Ann Stanford Poetry Prize. As a social worker, he has provided psychotherapy and other mental health services in a variety of settings. Imlay teaches web courses on meditation for the Institute of Applied Meditation and guides individual and group retreats.  He lives in Ventura, California.

The gutsy satire in Elijah Imlay’s Monsoon Blues is balanced by his experience of war.  These plainly spoken moments chronicle deep feelings and astute observations shaped by a vertical music that captures the speed of dangerous encounters.  Imlay’s one-man ensemble knows how to gauge the blues, how to get close to the bone. – Yusef Komunyakaa


This Matters

The broken vein in my wrist
has turned brown.

The upright piano at the Star Lounge
is missing a key.

“Pretend none of this matters,”

I tell the woman in the backseat,
her face salted brown,

who gripes that food stamps don’t apply
to her Boston Terriers.

She’s maybe fifty, hitching a ride
to the river bottom.


That We May Not Vanish

         I dream of Judy Levy in Jerusalem,
         where we met after 43 years.

         Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
         — John Keats

We sit by a grandfather clock
that rests on nothing.
Gold-plated Roman numerals
cast no shadow, and the hands of time
are still. Our breathing
steams the cold air of absence,
but when we try to speak
our voices turn into echoing chimes:
What will become of us?
What will become of us?

Your glance is as steady as ever,
and the contours of your body
cling to metal on wood—relics, tiny ruins—
what we find to hold onto in the dark.
Reaching for you, I bump into a wall,
slippery as obsidian, and you’re gone. 
Are you only lost to me, or are you stuck? 

I lurch upwards to grasp a memory
not yet extinct: the Calvert Review
with lines from your translation of a poem
that continues to live in me
despite the lost years. I ask you if it’s true,
what Amichai wrote, speaking of a child:
“And the powerful spell See you soon,
which he’s learned to say,
works only among the dead.”

I must have knocked you off the ledge
while scrambling up before I fell.
Why didn’t you scream? Yes,
I know that’s not your way.  Or mine.
What good to chafe against the darkness?
And now, like children, we rise into giggles
on the other side of time,
where we don’t have to be too stiff for life,
or fashionable, and surprise, surprise,

it’s not too late to bake the bread of yearning.


Elijah Imlay



2014 Elijah Imlay


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