Brick Road Poetry Press

poetry made to entertain, amuse, and edify

The mission of Brick Road Poetry Press is to publish and promote poetry that entertains, amuses, edifies, and surprises a wide audience of appreciative readers.  We are not qualified to judge who deserves to be published, so we concentrate on publishing what we enjoy. Our preference is for poetry geared toward dramatizing the human experience in language rich with sensory image and metaphor, recognizing that poetry can be, at one and the same time, both familiar as the perspiration of daily labor and as outrageous as a carnival sideshow.

Two-Star General by Grey Held


Two-Star General by Grey Held


Finalist, Brick Road Poetry Prize

Paperback: 82 pages

Publisher: Brick Road Poetry Press (May 14, 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 098410058X

ISBN-13: 978-0984100583

Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.2 inches

Shipping Weight: 6.2 ounces

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Two-Star General brings his father, the general, and himself, the poet, eloquently to life in poems that crackle with pungent language and compelling images that pull us in, and evoke fairly their conflicting attitudes and differing temperaments. The first section, in the general’s voice, contrasts his humanity “On the army cot, I kiss/the palm of my own hand, wishing it were my sweetheart,” with the aggressive nature needed when training men to kill: ”To some stabbing comes naturally . . . friendly/ yardage of intestines unfurling like ferns.” In Held’s voice, Section 2 gives us the poet growing up, coming to understand himself and the general more deeply. “The Draft” reveals the poet’s uncertainty, whether to go to war or protest it: “My 1A draft card burns/ like a coal in my pocket.” There is forgiveness and compassion in the end: “I kneel/ to lift his frail shin,/ cradle his cracked/ heel like a single parenthesis in my lap/ . . . align/ the ribs of his white/ cotton socks, fold them down/ just once, like he was a child.” These poems moved me deeply.

--Allen West, author of Beirut Again (Off the Grid Press)

Grey Held’s Two Star General helps us remember how potent one small moment is. He unpacks moment after moment for us, and each time, in doing so, grabs readers by our shirts and yanks us up close to a precise vitality. “Pass the salt,” he writes, and by the third repetition, we are inside a complex family relationship, marveling that it can be laid bare in so few lines. This is brilliant poetry, opening the reader to the rapture of being alive.

--Gena Corea, author of The Mother Machine (Harpercollins)

Two-Star General brings us the long term, and deeply personal consequences of war, and shows us that even for the ostensible victors, there are hidden wounds and irreparable losses. The general of the book’s title--based in part on Held’s father who was Chief of Supply for the Pacific during World War II—has a military mindset that profoundly affects the relationship between father and poet. In lines that are direct and unsentimental, these poems follow the poet as he comes of age and establishes his own complex relationship to stoicism and emotion. And yet these are not simply poems of familial struggle or generational dispute. Running throughout the book is a note of tender, almost elegiac sadness that helps us see how father and son have both been shaped by the world at war. Held helps us realize, in the end, that we all have that in common.

---Fred Marchant, author of The Looking House (Graywolf Press