The fulcrum of Xavier McClinton's poetry is the joy, camaraderie, and sense of being inspired by the love he gives and gets from his cherished poodles. The photography, most of it from his own lens, more than merely illustrating the verse, completes it. Combining the two leads him to the contemplation of life, love, community, empathy, and justice as absolute values. These can be, and often are, subject to extraneous threats that cannot be ignored: struggle, injustice, prejudice and individual frailty, themes Xavier's verse also probes. Throughout, he endows his poems with an engrained sense of rhythm and lyricism derived from the musical traditions in which he has been immersed over the course of half a century.