In these marvelous pages, the award-winning poet turns a searching gaze toward the shared habitat and intertwined fates of man and animal. He looks back and forward in time, down at the soil, up at the stars, and deeply into his personal relationships.

Brooks Haxton has been writing for years about the connections between human beings and the creatures we find fascinating. Mister Toebones, his new collection, draws its title from a nickname Haxton gives to a daddy longlegs he sees at his father's grave. In another poem, the poet and his mother, in search of a swimming hole, find a copperhead rearing to strike, about to birth its live young. Elsewhere, waist-deep in the Mississippi River, under the Atlantic Ocean, on the cracked ice of a frozen pond, even in outer space, the poet explores regions and forces that seem past endurance. Taking stock of threats against human survival, our own recklessness chief among them, these poems seek among visionaries and despots, scientific prodigies, murderers, and lovers what vitality may come from an alertness to all living things.
“There’s something bardic about Brooks Haxton’s Mister Toebones, the way his little narratives spin toward bone-hard insight through almost-melody, beguiling music. The poems travel far—from a mollusk in the mouth of a lover to the desolate moons of Jupiter—but their music, the deceptively simple chords of real lived wisdom, is persistent. A short poem near the middle of the collection, ‘A Cat Lover’s Guide to the Bell Curve,’ is alone worth the price of admission. Horace said good poems must ‘delight and instruct.’ Mister Toebones is full of very, very good poems.” —Kaveh Akbar
“As gravity bends light, and levity lightens weight, so does the original, humane consciousness of Brooks Haxton, as he creates his own magnetic field—idiosyncratic, capacious, intimate, and at the top of his form. Reliably unpredictable in their connections, his lines follow nature’s vagaries and his own. Indicting the violence he abhors, exploring the distant and the quotidian—Saturn and Snooks Pond, his poems restore proportion, always with candor but sotto voce ‘so as not to spook the deer.’” ­—Eleanor Wilner
“I have always known Brooks Haxton’s work to be full of curiosity and vision about anything he turns his eye and thought to, but Mister Toebones takes that wild, lyrical, wayfaring intelligence even further. These poems explore the mysteries of our world, of the human and creaturely journey, ever more powerfully in lovely, musical lines. It’s as if the poet has seen and done everything, knows gently everything. I loved this book. Brooks Haxton is one of our finest poets, and he has outdone even himself in this one. Read slowly, savor, and see.” —Richard Bausch