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The Road to Emmaus: Poems

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  113 ratings  ·  21 reviews
A moving, subtle sequence of narrative poems, from a sharp new poetic voice

Two strangers walk toward Emmaus. Christ has just been crucified, and they are heartbroken—until a third man joins them on the road and comforts them. Once they reach Emmaus and break bread, the pair realizes they have been walking with Christ himself. But in the moment they recognize him, he disap
Hardcover, 144 pages
Published April 1st 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Jan 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Though I could not ford my way through all of the prose-y long poems, there are a couple of perfect pieces in this book. Like this poem, the first in the collection and one that I have kept close at hand since I first read it:


Those mornings I traveled north on I-91,
passing below the basalt cliff of East Rock
where elms discussed their genealogies.
I was a chaplain at Hartford Hospital,
took the Meyers-Briggs with Sister Margaret,
learned I was an I drawn to Es.
In small group I said, "I do not
Roger Brunyate
Jun 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
A Spiritual Autobiography
The Gospel of John was right:
the world holds so much life.
There are not enough books to record it all.
I kissed the young man on his cheek, very lightly.

— Jesus said to them: "Unbind him, and let him go."

We each went our separate ways
following where we were being led.
Marie said: "Write it down, just as it happened."
These are the closing lines of "Hymn," the final poem in Spencer Reece's spare and moving collection. They really say everything that the book is about: th
Apr 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
The cover features this short blurb by Annie Dillard: "These poems form a true and riveting narrative. Reading Spencer Reece makes you recall why you love poetry." This rings so very true to me. Very infrequently do I have the urge to start a book again as soon as I finish, but Reece's poetry inspires just that feeling. Most of the poems spoke to me on some level. I particularly like Gilgamesh Fragments. Heartbreaking and beautiful. ...more
I was constantly surprised by this book and Reece's poetry. There is a certain vagueness to 'Monaco' but a devastating honesty to 'Gilgamesh'. Reece is not a 'formalist' but he will use forms (and rhymes) loosely. Throughout the poetry, there are numerous citations and allusions to Scripture although perhaps befitting the author's priestly office, his Christianity is more pastoral than apologetic. A wonderful citation from Isak Dinesen opens this volume. ...more
First read: July 12, 2019, Friday
Christoph Hahn
Dec 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
At first, the tone seems rather light than heavy. Sotto voce, slightly singing, starts the journey from home to the hospital where is the chaplain. The poet-priest Spencer Reece does never bang the big drum, neither in his „The Clerk's Tale“ (published in 2004) nor in his recent book, „The Road To Emmaus“. A disciple on his way, a tema con variazioni, spread over 19 poems – and it is all somehow about the writer himself, his doubts, his faith, his journey towards ordained ministry, his coming-ou ...more
Apr 27, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry, christianity
I'm not so sure about these poems. Some nice lines, but I felt rather unmoved overall.
At Thomas Merton’s Grave

We can never be with loss too long.
Behind the warped door that sticks,
the wood thrush calls to the monks,
pausing atop the stone crucifix,
singing: “I am marvelous alone!”
Thrash, thrash goes the hayfield:
rows of marrow and bone undone.
The horizon’s flashing fastens tight,
sealing the blue hills with vermilion.
Moss dyes a squirrel’s skull green.
The cemetery expands its borders—
little milky
May 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Wow... wow.

This second book by Spencer Reece reminded me why I liked his first collection so much.

It's quiet... it's sneaks up on you... and it is terribly needed right now... at this time.

He speaks so eloquently, almost achingly, to the prospect--and peculiar adventure through--being a gay man in the process of becoming a Catholic monk/priest. There is no simplicity to the situation. He glosses over nothing. He speaks of God in a way that even got me listening.

Recommend it...

James Murphy
Apr 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Road to Emmaus was shortlisted for Canada's Griffin Poetry Prize last year. I'd already bought the book from the table in the lobby during the intermission at the readings. I regretted it when Reece read during the 2d half of the program. He read in a drone a poem that went on too long. Reading this volume, though, I was pleasantly surprised at the power of Reece's poetry, at the swing of his imagery and the crisp language. It's robust yet gentle. The book didn't win the prize, but it could' ...more
Oct 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, queer-studies
It's good poetry. It's not my favorite type of poetry but it's good. In fact, it is so good I kept reading even though I found the line a bit subdued and the sentence strained. But I think that's the point. That's why I kept going at it. Topically the poems bring up the complex relationships between lovers, mentors, friends and God all while believing subtly that they are all connected to our personal and communal journeys. ...more
Dan Wilkinson
Aug 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Poet and Episcopal priest Spencer Reece’s recent book, “The Road To Emmaus” is a warm and generous collection of narrative poems that explores life with humble insight and restrained brilliance. My full review: ...more
May 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: spirituality
In my efforts to ad more poetry, I read this second collection by spencer Reece. I did not enjoy it nearly as much as his debut collection "The Clerks Tale," which I found had a shyer, more mischievous and whimsical humor about it, but this one does contain the same senses of wonder and gratitude at human relationships. ...more
Aidan Owen
Jul 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, 2015
Nostalgic, lyrical, incredibly beautiful, spare--I loved it. These poems describe ordinary life in simple language, and in doing so achieve an incredible spiritual and emotional depth.
Catherine Corman
Nov 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Puritans said there was no fire to be found under the ice, but I find that to be wrong: where I have found ice I have found fire.

-Spencer Reece, "Hartford"
Aug 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
"All I know now
is the more he loved me, the more I loved the world."

Full of grace, wonder, and grief. Not formally daring or exciting, but I'm not sure formal experiments would suit the meditative mood.
Apr 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbtq, poetry
I loved these poems very much. What a good model for writing story, narrative, history in poetry.
Oct 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was moved by many of these poems.
Catherine Mullaney
Feb 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I am not well versed in poetry. This is a powerful book of poems. Heartfelt and time stopping. I am looking forward to returning to it soon.
I got to share "Hymn" the last poem in the book with a group of women. You could have heard a pin drop. It was one that full of pain and hope at the same time.
May 25, 2016 rated it liked it
Structurally, these poems are sound. It was just a little too covert for my tastes. It's as though the author is alluding to himself but is not so certain. The details are so muddy they leave me with questions about things that really don't matter rather than with the knowledge of the subject matter. I really cannot recommend this- the 3 stars are for structure only. ...more
Oct 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014, poetry
3.75 stars. I really like Reece's style, and there was one section of one poem in particular that I really loved. A solid collection that would hold up well to repeat readings. ...more
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