Song Sung to The Mothers
You are the gate and the path leading away.
Not the nest but the many things
The nest was made from. Built of mud
And moonlight. Without you nothing
Can bond or find its way through darkness.
The mistakes of recognition were all ours:
That you are immortal and unchanging.
The nest by our feet on the path
Is the one we built of such dead twigs.
At night when I sleep it is to the song
My mother sang in the trees before
I was born as the moon pulled
My empty soul across the water
Flower Moon Song
Peonies rise a child’s arm length above the earth.
In a grocery lot puddle miles of clouds lay exhausted.
Following the moon’s invisible stem you find
Night’s dark loam, where unseen roots bind.
Following on the heels of the Staunton launch of my new book Wind Intervals, I was fortunate to be invited to read at the Richmond Public Library this coming Saturday. The reading is at 11am, and I’ll be sharing the stage, or veranda (weather permitting, it’s an outdoor reading), with Leona Sevick. I have heard her read a few poems from her new book Lion Brothers, and it’s great stuff.
Thanks to everyone who came out and enjoyed poetry, free coffee, a little violin and trumpet music from my daughters Sophia and Aurora, and some homemade cookies. The special edition of the book (35 numbered and signed copies) is almost sold out! I’m carrying the last three with me to the reading Saturday, along with a handful of copies of the regular edition.
As I often do before public readings, I’m here to ask if there’s a poem you’d like me to read. Anything on this site is fair game! I’m hoping to at least get audio of the reading to post here later in the weekend.
Write your suggestions in the comments field, or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Come to the Wind Intervals book launch tonight at Black Swan Books. If you are holding the right program, you could win a fine piece of letterpress printing from St Brigid Press!
The programs are folded and numbered. The books are printed and bound. The home-made Langues de Chat (cat-tongue cookies!) are cooling by the oven. The coffee is ground and ready to be brewed.
It’s time to launch this book.
Yesterday I met Emily of St Brigid Press to sign pre-orders for Wind Intervals. I was amazed to find that over two thirds of the special edition are already spoken for.
I hope to see some familiar faces — and some new ones — tonight at 7pm. I have tinkered with the idea of recording the reading or broadcasting it via Facebook Live; we’ll see what we’re up for by the time we get set up.
Hope to see you there!
To a Japanese maple in mid-April
The heavy spring rain pulled the night
All the way to the ground. Like shattered glass
It lay through dawn in the hollow. When I rose
The sky was the blue of starting over
But not forgetting. The stars had crawled
Up your trunk and were asleep in their green study.
The broken darkness, unsteady in daylight, lurched
Gracefully, two black swallowtails
Like dizzy memories of other nights that fell
To earth and survived the day.
Author’s note: This Japanese maple, located in Afton, Virginia, provided the leaves for the leaf-print illustrations in my new book Wind Intervals.
As the publication date of Wind Intervals — and its accompanying book launch on April 28 at Black Swan Books in Staunton, VA — draws near, I took some time this morning to drive over Afton Mountain to visit Emily Hancock at St Brigid Press to get a glimpse of the first bound books. (Of course I took a few copies away with me.)
It may be because I brought Emily a big cup of black coffee which she really did not need, but soon we were engaged in a rambling high speed talk about what it’s like to be the designer and printer of a book of poems in a letterpress environment. I started recording about halfway into our talk and wanted to share it with you in case hearing two people get nerdy about printing presses and book design and handmade paper is your Kind of Thing.
We talk about the making of the amazing hand-made cover paper for the special edition of Wind Intervals (seen in the photo above); how it’s likely that a letterpress printer spends more time typesetting and printing a poem than the poet spends writing the poem; we introduce weird words like “couching” — pronounced “cooching” — to the Poor Listener; we talk (I think!) about the use of actual Japanese maple leafs for illustrative printing inside the book; we talk about the relative stupidity of deciding to go with leaf print illustrations in the dead of winter when there are no leaves to go out and pluck from the trees outside; and Emily talks about the makeup of the two editions of the book and the materials that went into each.
The Japanese maple that loaned us the leaves for the illustrations stands just about twenty feet from the entrance to the Press. It’s in full leaf now, as is much of the mountainous area around us.
If any of that interests you, check out our rambling and entirely unedited conversation below or here.
To find out more about Wind Intervals and to pre-order a copy before the April 28th book launch, check out the blog at St Brigid Press.
Spring morning in a small city
The day is squeezed through the city’s buildings
Like water through a whale’s baleen
Leaving people harmlessly stuck to offices and stairways
Pressed against a wall in a hallway or sitting at a cafe
Table on the sidewalk. I, too small to be a meal for time
and commerce, slip through, discarded, on the quiet street
With my coffee. The sky is the blue of a baby’s iris.
A baby as big as a galaxy who is far from forming
Thoughts cohesive enough to create a world.
The only clouds in the sky slip together
Over the street into a momentary shape, a character
in a language not native to me but familiar.
I watch it pull itself apart. The city places orange cones
Around me to protect me while I stare and take a picture.
When I get home I discover it is the Chinese character
For “write.” I sit down with some paper and a blue pen
But every word drifts in a different direction as soon
As I write it and the page is as firm and white
As the sclera of a baby’s eye, of a galaxy whose
Unformed thoughts are rolling inward. The city blinks and
Before anyone can take a picture the day smashes its tail
on the surface of afternoon and is gone into the depths.