Poetry

Body and Mask

In the Villa Doria Pamphilj,         I saw a carved plaque set into a wall,         quite unremarkable, just the usual lotto di putti, the contest between cherubs, but then I         saw that one of the two         had wriggled his way somehow inside the mask of tragedy,   the way a dog might flail blindly,         its forequarters stuck in a paper sack,         but more cunning than that, and not stuck, having crawled in deliberately   (in the same way an apprentice of Cellini         hid his lover inside a bronze head of Mars,         her nude flank like the whites of its eyes), the cherub’s

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From “Nocturnes”

Beautiful moon     the murderer begins to sing     The thief takes off his mask     to smell     the heliotrope A junkie steals asters from a rich man’s grave     And spreads them     on the modest mound of his mother A lone girl walks with moonlit haste     in the shadow of     the maquiladoras * Pol Pot sleeps     counting heaven’s lambs     His ex-wife is learning ikebana * A pretty boy dances naked in a cage Twelve or thirteen     he is brown and slender He sings     My father sold me to the hillside wolves For a snort of the white dragon * The sky does not judge     it’s black and starle

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Seen by a Ghost

If he had seen her seen her mortal form tonight open the fridge door wide almost bundle her body into it into that nave of brightness dumbly drinking milk as spirits drink blood ghostlike even to herself athirst for white and dazzled by the glare of steel and iron her fingers burnt by ice he would have said it wasn’t her. Not the one whom dying I left so she could live on in my place. —Translated by Jamie McKendrick  For more TNR, become a fan on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. 

Carts

Carts full of hay abandoned the town in greatest quiet. Cautious glances from the curtains. A morning empty as a waiting room. The rustling of papers in the archives; men calculate the losses. But that world. Suitcases packed. Sing for it, oriole, dance for it, little fox, catch it. —Translated by Clare Cavanagh  For more TNR, become a fan on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

October, Mon Amour

The first dead leaves lie like sea urchins                                                     browned on the asphalt drive. It’s got to be October, Slayer of living things, refrigerator of memory. Next to the wilted lettuce, next to the Simone Weil, Our lives are shoved in,                                         barely visible, but still unspoiled. Our history is the history of the City of God. What’s-to-Come is anybody’s guess. Whatever has given you comfort, Whatever has rested you, Whatever untwisted your heart                                                     is what you will leave beh

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As

A squeak of light. Ocean air looking to come inland, to test its influence on the salty farms waking.                                        Mist lifts. The distance reappears; in an hour or so someone will say crystal clear even though there is no truth in it since even now the ground is clouding ions and atoms. The sun is up; day begins. Someone else says dry as dust but this is outside Dublin in summer and last night’s storm left clay and water mixed together. The afternoon is long and warm. The air is sweet; the branch of one tree angles to its own heavy fruit.

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Home is Where the Art Is

Clampitt’s distinction as a poet in part stems from her earlier break with poetry. Distanced from the ephemeral poetic fads of her time, she could com

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Flying Things

Now the spell has broken, the bleeding and coalescing begun, each day soft and hard, cold and warm, nurturing and distant, as the cold rain gives a ghostly aura, wet-on-wet, to everything, moth, squirrel, bee, fly, and bat providing occasional reverberations from the earth, which soon will be draped and piled into abstraction, while each snowfall— like linen unfolded, conjuring the domestic— forces us further inward into the fraught territories of self and family, instead of out into waves at the beach or furrows in the bronzing garden. Fold one thousand paper cranes on the kitchen table and t

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Orange Hole

The horses were so beautiful but the people ugly. Why is that? Both seemed perfectly alive. Both seemed to want to do what was asked of them as bullets snapped hitting branches and rocks and a blast wave blew everything down. I crouched against a boulder looking for safety, returning fire, everything in dreamy slow motion, orange smoke drifting out of the misty hole, introducing the idea of beauty as a salve and of aesthetics making something difficult accessible. Alone in that box of crisscrossing lead— my ears ringing, my skin pouring sweat— I missed you.

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Uphill Both Ways

The substance of Geoffrey Hill’s poetry is the God of the Miltonic and Blakean traditions. But Hill does not worship this substance as much as he does

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