John Roche in Placitas, NM with his new book, "Joe Rides Again"
Cover illustration by Whitney Gratton
Cover by Michael Czarnecki
This hand-stitched book will not be available on Amazon, only from the FootHills Publishing website or here from the author.
$18 includes shipping in the U.S.
Joe Rides Again
Had been years since anyone spotted Joe
Rumors were flying that he was dead
Folks even consulted the Ouija Board, or played records backwards, to no avail
Then one day in the merry month of May
someone saw Joe pumpin’ gas into a beater car at the Indian-owned self-serve near the Interstate
They said, “Joe, thought you’d return on a white horse named Mescalero,
or descend on a marmalade cloud,
but here you are, looking like ordinary Joe”
“What ya see is what ya get,” answered Joe, as he got into the driver’s seat
and his chariot began to lift.
Joe the Poet’s Latest Book
Joe's preference is to fold his poems into paper airplanes
Sail them off canyon walls bury deep in the wine-dark sea
He hides poems under desert rocks
on bus stop benches and subway seats
inside Gideon Bibles in fuck motels
inside fast-food wrappers
under magazines in doctors' waiting rooms and county jails
Somewhere the one who needs one may find their poem
Joe has a friend who collects the poems Joe tosses over his shoulder
Joe hasn't exactly agreed to their publication
but neither has he made a fuss
Joe says don't assume you know the author from the poem
says all these poems are pale copies of poems written 10,000 years ago
'cause my memory ain't what it used to be.
What others are saying about Joe Rides Again:
"John Roche brings us another delightful, and thoughtful, account of Joe the Poet’s wanderings. Hang on tight as Joe, a nebulous character whose gender is in free flight, continues to roam both the real and the illusory worlds, encountering jihadis, a bicycle with a soul, Chuang Tzu’s gardener, and various other entities, cruising the “Magic Highway.” All of this while he is scribbling poems and tossing them over his shoulder. It’s a wild ride, so keep in mind that “everything about Joe is extenuating” and that his turns are so quick they can cause whiplash! Roche has created a grand poetical version of magical realism that is undoubtedly a tour de force of the imagination."
—Dorothy Alexander, poet and publisher, Village Books
Press, Santa Fe NM & Cheyenne, OK
Joe the Poet is an irresistible persona. He’s a gonzo guru for our era, one moment a “climate refugee,” the next holding forth with Chuang Chu’s gardener. In Joe Rides Again, John Roche delights and challenges us with poems that are sometimes rollicking, sometimes somber, and always wise. “Joe’s poems always ease you down the road.” Be prepared to fall in love with Joe the Poet—and this timely book. I did.
—Karla Linn Merrifield, author of Psyche’s Scroll (The Poetry Box Select) and Athabaskan
Fractal: Poems of the Far North (Cirque Press)
Joe Rides Again. He sure does. & who in heaven—when he’s not in hell—is he? John Roche describes him & her & s/he as a time- & space-traveling avatar, but there’s no catching this riveting trans-gender character (to my mind one of the most memorable in our literature) in words. Yeah, he’s always in process, Joe waiting for Joe; he explores galaxies & dimensions on his way to the Himalayas or a hoosegow; he knows he knows & doesn’t know everything & nothing. He’ll weep “one pure tear” for our planetary degradations & extinctions, & he knows who the life-giving spirits are & the ones who baffle soulful morality beyond the limitations of law—a cop senses Joe’s pen is a dangerous weapon—but Joe is not a wiser-than-thou presence (except when he is, despite himself). He knows himself holy, wayward, knows himself to be a microcosm of Whitman’s multitudes. He nor we nor even Roche seem to know where Joe will appear next even as he goes nowhere and everywhere, often in just ten lines, or one. Joe knows all languages, it seems, but “can’t recall his original tongue.” (Maybe all the Joe poems at once are Joe’s original tongue.) We read, we hear, we follow. Poem after poem is surprising, expansive, revelatory, a work of artful naïveté. I never get enough of Joe & the New Mexico poet who imagines & creates him (& will, I’m sure, keep creating him). Poetry must, as Emerson says, integrate. I’m grateful for such Joe-John wholeness here.
—William Heyen, National Book Award Finalist, author of The Candle: Poems of our Twentieth Century Holocausts