The poems of Heart Murmur are richly talky and utterly authentic, one moment wry and self-deprecating and the next astonishingly open-hearted. I honor this book for its celebration of our foolish hopes, our crazed and enlivening appetites
ISBN: 0-9715145-0-X (softcover) $10.00. Purchase from author.
Like the Friday night he writes about, Mike Steffen's poems are exhilarating. Through their fluid syntax and rich lexicon, they provide us with a metonymic index of American culture — as sharp as the edge between bitter and sweet.
Bad Behavior catalogs the range and shades of our shared humanity. Michael Steffen's unblinking gaze is often ironic, which makes his capacity for tenderness even more impressive, as he gives voice to a flood-ruined farmer at a pawn shop, or imagines a convict's botched execution, a worker having to listen to himself being fired in corporate double-speak, or shows us a son caring for his ill mother. Steffen imagines the past with its unfixable wrongs "stalking us, bumming cigarettes/wearing holes in its shoes," as if to suggest it is ourselves we give to or refuse. And it is indeed ourselves these poems give back to us, newly tenacious and aware.