Most of our time together is spent in these words,
The hours of writing and reading
And our house under the roof of your eyes
Is the place we will never come home to
Because we have never left it because
This is not a place but a time we share
Unaware of each other holding
The other sometimes of the wrist of mind
Resisting departure: have you felt that
And the memory of these words that may come
At any moment and at every moment
Is our time and the closest thing to permanence
Is that these words are waiting for us
In the blurring-by tree I saw the hawk turn its head.
This distance I’ve come to bring you home to find I no longer lived
In there. Well we walked arm in arm to the seats on the wall.
On the other side of the planet nobody called in.
Stood up by the upside down world. By the static sigh
Which could mean anything. By the eye which does not
Recognize. And this way back where the rocks weep ice
Is the only way which is forward
This brief response direct as a laugh because it was
Though you were unable to say my name or know
Who I was though you knew me through some tone or gesture
Is better than a memory of a laugh though the tunnel of grief is long
This goodbye where we are past the why to the final silent letter.
For those who’ve followed the adventures of my old friend Goat over the last few weeks as I’ve posted them, many thanks.
For anyone interested in the entire collection, I’ll put together a PDF of this work and have it on this site for download before the New Year. There is still a print version of the book available through Amazon with black and white versions of Tom Williams’s great linocut art, but no copies of the original letterpress are available (at least not that I know of!)
Finally, for the last word on this sequence, I’ll hand it off to National Book Award winning poet A.R. Ammons, who wrote this about the Goat poems:
“A sequence in which the imagination is marvelously free to leap, convert, disjoint, dispose re-dispose as the moment prompts, but a sequence in which restraint, compression, intention, craft are all alive and conscious in a fine discipline. The rambunctious is made sadly tame, sulled, schooled in ‘Goat’s Style is Cramped’ so naturally and with such apparent ease and one is so caught up in the poem itself that one has to break away to become aware of how flawlessly the poem’s made. I like these poems very much and consider them a rare achievement. Though energetic and almost dismissively swift, they startle one with sharp loneliness, compassion, loss. I’m afraid I cannot find anything wrong with them.”