cover of book

We Bed Down into Water: Poems
by John Rybicki
Northwestern University Press, 2008
Cloth: 978-0-8101-5187-1 | Paper: 978-0-8101-5186-4
Library of Congress Classification PS3568.Y3977W4 2008
Dewey Decimal Classification 811.54


John Rybicki offers up an unafraid set of poems in this charged book of verse. We Bed Down Into Water is rich with imagery of family, love, illness, death, and, indeed, water, which seeps in throughout the pages: rivers, pools, rain, and tears. His moving stories, in both prose and verse, struggle to hang on to a vision of the world that can still allow benevolence, luck, and laughter. In this, the collection embodies a contradiction: it is a tender book of fury, a book of bleak hopefulness.

Rybicki’s work is steeped in challenge: the biological and spiritual challenge posed by his beloved’s recurrent cancer or the daily challenges of an adopted child who could be, all too easily, lost. He spins these phenomenal struggles into a lyrical book that offers hope and awakens the reader into a new way of seeing.


John Rybicki is currently the Sandburg-Auden-Stein Poet-in-Residence at Olivet College. His published works include Yellow-Haired Girl with Spider and Traveling at High Speeds as well as poems in numerous anthologies and periodicals. 


"John Rybicki collects the ordinary elements of a work day, whether it's work at the tire shop or work at the desk 'cracking one sharp stone against a page until it sheds/the proper sparks . . .' These are the fruits of hard labor and love, a poet banging away until the beams are balanced, until life is balanced for one day against all the confusion and swirling called a life. It is love, after all, that begs this testimony, but it is devotion that allows it to flower into song." --Sandra Cisneros, best-selling author of The House on Mango Street and Caramelo

"I cannot, dare not, will not commit the crime of commenting on Rybicki's verses. All I might do is cry with him, yet lack the courage to venture a feeling anywhere within the infernal precinct of this man's authenticity. Song, song--he, Rybicki is singing." --Gordon Lish

"John Rybicki has a hurricane heart, a hammer-heart, that is just waiting to unleash itself upon this perhaps undeserving world." --Rick Bass

    Acknowledgments	000
    Thirty Years Ago	000
    Julie Ann in the Bone Marrow Unit, Zion, Illinois	000				
    Me and My Lass, We Are a Poem	000
    Love Is the Heel That Knocks Hard Against the Floor	000
    Tire Shop Poem	000
    A Song for Kay Mullen	000
    The Earth Is Not Quiet		000
    Our Romance		000	
    This Tape Measure Made of Light	000
    Outside the Bone Marrow Unit	000
    Interlochen Center for the Arts	000
    The Violin Now, My God the Violin	000
    Fire Psalm	000
    Bulrushes	000
    Two Movements for Martel Epperson	000
    Yellow-Haired Girl with Spider	000
    Say My Name		000
    Her Body Like a Lantern Next to Me		000
    Helena's Hair	000
    Not Knowing Enough About Physics to Write This Poem	000
    Long Before This Tenderness Between Us Was Born	000
    So Quiet Sending	000
    Snow	000
    Fire Psalm Revisited	000
    Julie Ovary Song	000
    Sleep Piling Up, Sleep Coming On	000
    The Story	000
    This Sun	000
    King	000
    Saint Clare of Montefalco	000
    Silhouette	000
    The Boy	000
    Three Lanterns	000

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