Books & Stuff

Buy a signed copy through this site and $9.00 of every book sold goes to a library in the area affected by the tornadoes of December 2021. The other $9.00 is what I have to pay the publisher per copy. I have no desire to profit from this tragedy.

MAYFIELD is an account of my volunteer experience in Mayfield, Kentucky after a devastating category 4 tornado obliterated a significant portion of the town as well as a 165 mile path of destruction across western Kentucky.

Click on the book cover image (below) to order signed/inscribed copy.

Other ways to buy:

*Dos Madres Press has been amazing in supporting my effort by providing me as nice discount and free shipping so I can "pass the savings to the cause," but unfortunately, purchasing MAYFIELD through the publisher's site or Amazon, will not result in a $9.00 donation. Only by ordering through me (or buying the book at one of my readings) will result in a donation. Thank you!

Dos Madres Site:

Not yet available.

What Are the Rich Doing Tonight?

Click on the book cover image (below) to order signed/inscribed copy.

“What are the rich doing tonight?” is a rhetorical expression asked by the working class in a moment of true living. Often, it is when experiencing something that shouldn’t be enjoyable such as hard, dirty work or simply surviving in difficult conditions. It is during these times a realization occurs that a moment of productive discomfort can be more rewarding than a life of ease. A euphoria can strike when you realize that you have everything you need, including a story to tell. This collection is from those moments that remind us of what true living is.

Wes Berry Reviews

~ Professor of American Literature, Western Kentucky University


Dennis Rush's "Mayfield" is composed of short clear-spoken lyric poems that tell a story of his trip from New York to far western Kentucky to help with the Dec. 2021 tornado cleanup. He brings the kids along. I'm impressed by the swift publication, less than 5 months after the tornados. These are poems written swiftly, without artifice. They read like journal entries with a poet's eye for surprising observations.

Maitre D'

I am looking at a large tree

that only has one remaining limb

bent upward at the elbow and

broken at the wrist.

It looks like a saguaro cactus

holding a wilted sheet of metal roofing

in the crook of its arm.

The back cover of the book is a photo of the tree described.

I read the book in an evening. As I read, I thought of potential critics who might accuse Dennis of "disasterporn," but the poet's attitude--sincere, uncertain--put those thoughts to rest.

It's been a productive poetry year for Dennis. His first collection What Are the Rich Doing Tonight? came out less than a year ago. I relished those poems speaking of blue collar work and rural lives. This collection has that same down-to-earth style and honest narrative voice. I'll end with some of my favorite lines:

I understand how it makes sense

at certain times

to take a little extra

when you've never had

a little extra.


I'm playing the long game. Infinity

will help make this life no more

than one night in a bad hotel.

So hang in there, unfortunate friends.

Tomorrow is just around

the corner.


What Are the Rich Doing Tonight?

My southern-Barren County raised comrade Dennis Rush has made a striking book of lyric poems. It arrived in our rural Warren Co. mailbox yesterday. I started reading at bedtime and kept turning pages until the final poem 70 pages later. This morning I shared a couple favorites with Elisa, who was impressed by Dennis's artful straight talk, describing everyday life in clear terms with some surprising twists of mind, as in "Siphoning," which moves from septic tanks to oak and perhaps beech leaves to the poem's final funny reflection, "What are the rich doing tonight?" When people I know ask me to read their work, the responsibility comes with anxiety that the writing won't suit my tastes and then I'll have to hurt someone's feelings or else lie about it. In these poems, I discovered an honest voice speaking about the pains, drudgery, and often beauty of farm and factory work, raising animals, parenting, spouses, with a strong current of insects, frogs, birds, trees and such running through all. I'm reminded of my favorite poets Gary Snyder, William Carlos Williams, Maurice Manning, Ann Fisher-Wirth, and Philip Levine. I'm going to read all these poems again and look forward to sharing them with students. Well done, Dennis Rush of Dry Fork, Kentucky roots! I remember seeing "Denny" dribbling a basketball on the country road as we passed his house on the way to country church near Tracy, KY. He now lives way up there in New York state. I hope Dennis keeps scribbling these "radically lucid" poems.