Michael Walsh’s poetry collection Creep Love explores a family contending with a complex and ongoing crisis, the aftermath of which creates a shockwave that reverberates through these poems. Stories, half-truths, and lies combine into disturbing fable: A young pregnant woman flees her abusive boyfriend only to discover with terror that he is focused on her younger sister. When her younger sister later gives birth to her abusive ex’s other sons, the unsettling presence of the child’s father becomes unavoidable, and the family soon forces the first son to become a family secret.
We come to find out that the father carries a secret of his own. As tensions rise, attacks within the family escalate and finally culminate in an attempted murder. In Creep Love, Walsh captures the terror of this event, and these poems take us through the surprising outcomes. Near death, rather than floating into light due to hypoxia—a temporary release from the grip of compounding trauma—the speaker sinks into all-encompassing darkness. The anxiety of this moment returns him to his body from the edge of death. These poems give witness to the fallout, demonstrating how love can be charged with something ultimately unknowable.
About the Author
Michael Walsh is the author of poetry books including The Dirt Riddles and Creep Love, as well as two chapbooks: Adam Walking the Garden and Sleepwalks. His poems and stories have appeared in journals such as The Journal, Chattahoochee Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Cimarron Review, Crab Orchard Review,Great River Review, North Dakota Quarterly, and Prairie Schooner. He lives in Minneapolis and works as a curriculum administrator at the University of Minnesota.
“These permutations of the human capacity for terror, especially regarding mental illness, are purely compelling. The poems build one on the other, compounding what is an always unsettling movement forward. This is hard, plain content and as readers we are spared little. If this sounds uninviting, that is not so—these poems find a place to stand through it all, and this redemptive footing is the key to survival in so many circumstances. These poems find courage where there is none to be found, and are, in that sense, full of pure human spirit.” — Alberto Rios, author of A Small Story about the Sky
“It’s a rare poet who can make such powerful poetry from pain, such lyrical beauty out of unthinkable suffering as Walsh has done in his latest collection, Creep Love. Clearly, a master of the confessional poem, Walsh is an engaging poet whose story of a rural past, an abusive stepfather, a Midwestern farm life is at once haunting, terrifying, and beautifully told.”
— Nin Andrews, author of Miss August
“This book is a sacrament, the broken body and the blood. The actual broken body of a gay Son whose cries go unheard by Father, Mother, Stepfather, Aunt, Siblings, Cousins. Like cows shut in by electric fences they somehow manage to leap over and break free, these horrific events take place on a farm though they could have happened anywhere. These poems are truths that emerge only after a lifetime of lies, makeup over bruises that can’t fool everyone. This dark Gospel of Betrayal hits hard, leaving marks, sparing no one.”