Salms navigates the ancient, vexed lyric landscape of the biblical psalm, where gratitude is arrived at through complaint and yearning is smuggled in alongside tribute. Formally restless and diverse, Aaron McCollough’s style moves from flinty Anglo-Norman terseness through folktale to long-lined, journal-like confessional. The poems’ sounds and forms bind to the divine histories of the Western lyric tradition at points of fragility and potential disintegration.

“Profoundly intelligent and erudite, steeped in the metaphysicals, Aaron McCollough’s poems alternately tantalize with their hermeticism and dazzle with their sudden outpourings of radiant clarity. The mirrors so important to this collection are like the surfaces of lakes: protean, dreamy, distorting, swallowing up and transforming everything in their purview, as McCollough’s voracious intellect swallows up language and delivers it back to us refracted, estranged—as the past itself is transfigured by our memory of it. I found myself reveling in this writing, transfixed among the ‘dusty stars.’”—Donna Stonecipher, author, The Ruins of Nostalgia

“Searching for a form that observes history and song but falls short of orthodoxy, Salms is a genuine revelation of McCollough’s unique gift to sound out the furious trials of being, with a lens brought right into his soul’s mind’s eye. In line after line, McCollough shocks his instrument into truths that last only until they are uprooted by the next; doubt and faith and love and loss exchange places in a dizzying exchange that is both brilliant and devastating. Salms is kin and heir to the likes of Donne and Herbert and to Geoffrey Hill.”—Martin Corless-Smith, author, The Poet’s Tomb

“Aaron McCollough’s stunning new collection of poetry, Salms, is as attentive to the merging of poems and psalms as it is to the nearly indistinguishable sound of salms and songs. Here, ‘the glazier carries an eye’; ‘split wood [is] proof the wound is real,’ and ‘a hoed stone sings.’ Whether attending to memory, observation of the natural world, metaphysical poets, love, God, or mortality, the spaces these poems traverse are destabilized by shifting contexts and the uncertain ideas of ‘inside’ and ‘out.’ I feel myself reaching after wherever I already am. I become curious about the lyric and the psalm. Is inhabiting always reinhabiting? I’ve just loved reading and rereading Salms; this is exactly why I come to poetry, to move toward and away, to hear new music, again.”—Sally Keith, author, Two of Everything

salm 10.22”

Having been told we were moving to a mountain, I saw a triangle with a house tumbling down its edge.


A little girl named Ruth died of leukemia—I lay in my bed and thought about a lovely portrait weeping in distant dark.


My legs began to ache around then, and my thighs turned the color of an eggplant.


My astronomy of death then imagined a distant God whose planet could never be reached but whom I respected as an element: oxygen and the floor.


On the cooking basket weave of my mother’s volkswagen, sex was described.


I sat in my own shit as the faucet violently filled the bath, parents looming between anger and fear, asking is there anything wrong? do you need to tell us something?


Language being a peccant inheritance none of us suspected, we all kept speaking, filling the air. What seemed like days passed.


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Publication Details

Publication Date
Trim size
6 x 8 inches
Pages, art, trim size
90 pages