From simple elements Joe Jiménez creates a beautiful and brutal poetry gathered from the landscape of the gulf coast. It is a journey inward as much outward, and from this dark night, a language familiar and everyday, takes flight leisurely and as full of grace as the white heron. I am astonished and humbled by these poems.
Sandra Cisneros, author of House on Mango Street
With vigorous language and magnificent imagery, Jimenez is a masterful field guide, taking us on a journey through the splendor and ravage of the Gulf Coast, exploring every detail, naming every nuance of the physical landscape through which he leads us cleverly into the emotional landscapes of our deepest selves. We stand right beside him, questioning the most wondrous meaning of being fully alive with all our despair and hope, fears and possibilities, leaving nothing unnoticed, unnamed, or unexamined.
Richard Blanco, Presidential Inaugural Poet and
author of Looking for The Gulf Motel
The Possibilities of Mud is an apt title for Joe Jimenez’s stunning debut collection. It operates on the murky edge of things, exploring the subtle nuances, the uncertainty and mystery of daily life. Let yourself sink into these rich, layered poems of love without innocence—humble love full of hard-earned wonder. Jimenez embraces this vital landscape, this emotional, physical, sexual landscape, while fully aware of all possible gulfs everywhere. His mature, confident voice casts a lasting spell from poem to poem to poem—as Jimenez himself writes, “furiously, devotedly.”
Jim Daniels, author of Birth Marks
“The Gulf is a wildness/I want to know.” And it’s true: these poems are an engaging exploration rooted in a particular Texas landscape with its “wet inclinations,” where a speaker “walk[s] bare-toed along morning waves” singing a shore region’s flora (“gulfweed and turtle grass”) and fauna (one poem titled “What I Said to the Great Blue Heron”). Joe Jiménez gives voice to a discursive-rich lyricism in a range of registers and forms, where “[t]he throat is also a heart.”
Francisco Aragón, author of Glow of Our Sweat
and Puerta del Sol
Like Thoreau before him, Joe Jiménez reminds us that if we are to know ourselves, we must be intimately familiar with the natural world around us. Shaped by the lovely tendrils of question marks, Jiménez’s poems are a wondrously insistent search for the deeper, more primordial truths that our urban, built environments rarely allow. The poems’ musical language, like the gull’s “thick whistle,” render these meditations haunting and memorable. I marvel at the gulf that is the setting for many of Jiménez’s poems: it is an inlet fed by a vast sea of ancient wisdom and deeply felt emotion. In their sense of wonderment at the natural beauty that surrounds us, Jiménez’s poems honor his ancestors, the Mexica, who were compelled to leave behind the familiar in search of the unknown. These antepasados are ever-present in the poems; they tell us that “all things matter when the time/is right.” The time is right. Jiménez’s poems matter.
Pablo Miguel Martínez, author of Brazos, Carry Me
Joe Jiménez is a marvelously contemplative poet, often contrasting the thrill of intimacy with the perilous knowledge of mortality. Yet, as his poems observe, not even the most intricate of our arguments can eclipse the encompassing nature of love. “The heart is a simple machine,” he writes, and its capabilities are here made bare: strong, passionate, and gorgeously vulnerable.
Manuel Muñoz, author of Zigzagger