Dream Horse Press

Rancho Nostalgia

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James Cihlar's Rancho Nostalgia

ISBN 978-1-935716-25-9

Praise for Rancho Nostalgia


Midway through James Cihlar’s splendid Rancho Nostalgia you’ll find some advice: “Keep reaching into the past / to grab something new.” One of the great wonders of this book full of wonders is that Cihlar follows his own instruction so brilliantly. Whether invoking scenes from classic movies or from the poet’s own life, the results are poignant, complex, and full of bracing insights. These poems feel like they’re being projected from a beguiling, not-quite-familiar place somewhere behind us, “close to the border, where / the light is good.”
 Mark Bibbins


"James Cihlar’s poems in Rancho Nostalgia contain the twisted love of a stage mom and the nervous energy of an Oscar Show producer. Here’s a cinephilic poet who can pretty much direct anything, even the transformation of Sherlock Holmes into a “wharf rat.” Of course, Cihlar can’t shut off his camera. A woman’s face “is the Wrigley building lit at night.” Teddy Roosevelt and Winston Churchill are “rag dolls in the future’s toy box.” And Cihlar’s alter ego “parades down Wall Street wearing a diadem of wheat.” At one point, he flatly says, “Inspiration comes when we don’t want it.” Lucky for us he has the conviction to be willfully misguided. Every page in this book possesses at least one tiny miracle."
Steve Fellner


"You know the marquee, the one above that closed and chained movie palace you still pass every time you visit your hometown, hoping it has been resurrected. If you managed to get inside, you’d feel as if you were drifting in and out of someone’s noir scrapbook, which also housed scratched glossies and faded lobby cards from Hollywood’s golden age. Rancho Nostalgia’s title should be spelled out with an achingly incomplete alphabet on that dark marquee. In this engagingly surreal collection of poems, Jim Cihlar has produced what we’ve been secretly yearning for. He’s located the keys to that movie palace, shaped the absent letters, replaced the projector bulbs, and polished the lenses clean—but not too clean. When you take your seat and watch the smoky images begin to move on screen, you’ll feel the bittersweet tug of our collective irretrievable pasts."
Eric Gansworth


  About the Author:

James Cihlar’s previous books include Undoing and Metaphysical Bailout. His poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, The Awl, Court Green, Smartish Pace, Prairie Schooner, Lambda Literary Review, and Forklift, Ohio. He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.


  From Rancho Nostalgia:



Night Song 


Merle Oberon is a vessel of light.
She has the brains to go with the diamonds.

She gives up a jillion dollars and a pretty boyfriend
for the love of music.

When we find what we can’t have,
the whole body hurts, the tongue hurts,

the skull like a teapot.
It starts in the eyes.

If you want to ask something, ask it.
If you want to do something, do it.

Live like that.
My vistas are framed by pine boughs.

Waves on the lake tick like a clock.
I know what I’m entitled to have.

When I am blind, you are blind.
We are two blind people in a city full of eyes.

You take me for walks on the beach.
Stand in smoke and light in front of Carnegie Hall.

The boiled wool of the Great Plains trundles past
our too-big windows on the train.

Light me a torch, will you chum?
I trade boogie-woogie for beer and hamburger.

Music is all I have to live for.
My heart’s an old wastepaper basket.

Merle’s face asleep on a plane,
a child tucked into bed.

The symphony’s over. You can let your hair down
and become human again.



Rancho Nostalgia

Copyright 2013 James Cihlar

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