The Miraculous Courageous

SKU: 978-1-60235-447-0

Josh Booton

Winner of the New Measure Poetry Prize

Free Verse Editions
Edited by Jon Thompson

Information and Pricing
978-1-60235-447-0 ($14, paperback); 978-1-60235-448-7 ($12, Adobe eBook on CD). 80 pages.(c) 2018 by Parlor Press.

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June 2018 Exemplars: Poetry Reviews by Grace Cavalieri. Washington Independent Review of Books.

What People Are Saying

In this stunning sequence of sixty short monologues, Josh Booton sets a clock in motion, a minute hand that keeps lyric time, moving back and forth, outwards and inwards. The voice at its center belongs to a boy on the spectrum whose preoccupations with seahorses and Jacques Cousteau offer us glimpses of that "secret blue little aqualung" we call poetic wonder. Each perfect rectangle of verse becomes a porthole for the reader. A clear narrative progression extends its plumb-line into the dark glamour of those depths, into which the poet plunges to return with "the whole day in one hand the night another."   —Carolina Ebeid

If, as Socrates asserts, philosophy begins in wonder, and if, as Emily Dickinson recommends, we do well to "Tell all the truth but tell it slant," then the autistic speaker in Josh Booton's new collection The Miraculous Courageous is equal parts philosopher and poet, wondering at such mysteries as the contrast between seemingly empty ocean and "all / that life crowded so close" around a reef, and slanting us such truths as that happiness "smells exactly like tangerines" and that one need not be lonely in a world astir "with the rough of starfish / and rain on garbage can lids."  —H. L. Hix


The Miraculous Courageous is a fractured epic, a sequence which seeks not to explain but to evoke the mind of one boy and his experience with autism. In the tradition of Carson's Autobiography of Red, Booton constructs a landscape both familiar and uncanny, a territory where our inner workings burn with the luminosity of jellyfish and "darkness turns the lighthouse on." These poems are agile, slippery, glancing at the camera then quickly away, skewing the boundaries between lyric and monologue, vignette and scene. These poems are a bridge. And through their deft conflation of inner and outer worlds, the self and the other, The Miraculous Courageous marks a rich and startling immersion in the mind of autism.

About the Author

Josh Booton's first book, The Union of Geometry & Ash, was awarded the Dorothy Brunsman Poetry Prize.  His work has been supported by grants from The University of Texas at Austin, the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Foundation and the Elizabeth George Foundation.  He lives in Boise, Idaho, where he works with children and teens with autism spectrum disorder as a pediatric speech therapist.


1. the books all quote my brain is wrong
2. in my first memory my mom is crying
3. anthony says seahorses are gay but
4. this is where we shakehands stare
5. the seahorse isn't a real horse
6. my mom said don't always go on
7. today we practice asking questions
8. the moon is the ocean's clock
9. the seahorse can hardly swim though
10. tell me about your friends she says
11. weather wrecks everything here grays
12. I like tangerines no. 2 pencils sharpened
13. how was it Jacques diving under
14. today we practice telling jokes but
15. this is my collection of brokenmachines
16. anthony said snap out of it says you can't
17. if you put an ocean seahorse in a tank
18. we are all detectives she said searching
19. I like the sound of yelling faraway
20. mom says the leaves eat light she says
21. there's one thing I don't understand
22. it doesn't hurt as much as you
23. people on tv are cyring again because
24. if divers shine waterlights on them
25. there are places so dark at the bottom
26. the clouds right now are cumulonimbus
27. sometimes a shock runs through me
28. I built one once from two liters
29. are there species Jacques even you
30. today we practice reading emotions
31. frogs aren't full of clockparts guts
32. the sun arrives too many strangers
33. you're a good listener you never say
34. anthony says it's my fault says he left
35. when I was young younger when
36. he didn't really mean you're a genius
37. the waves are too high today to swim
38. I'll find one once all my own but not
39. they're not helpless they can hide
40. goldfish don't have memories
41. the trees outside my window scratch
42. in another memory my brother slips
43. freshwater tiger tail thorny
44. we are making a memory moms says we are
45. anthony said a man talks with his fists
46. today we practice listening keeping
47. impossible notions are the only ones
48. who knows why they're called hands
49. my shirttag is the only thought
50. the bluffs are covered with names
51. something in the light in the way
52. are you ever lonely Jacques below
53. every clock in the house shines
54. the gulls make circles over nothing
55. I would be green the yellowygreen
56. amazing they don't get pulvarized
57. I did it last night in the bathtub Jacques
58. today we practice saying goodbye
59. the ocean takes an inch each year
60. last night I dreamed I was a seahorse

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