By James Longenbach
From Second Draft:
What people learn
I realized late.
My soul perched
On an olive branch
Waving its plumes. I said
I aspire to
I want you,
Said my soul,
If you’re telling the truth.
Draft of a Letter is a booklet approximately belief—not trust within the unknowable yet trust in what turns out bewilderingly undeniable. considering the our bodies we inhabit, the phrases we communicate, those poems observe infinitude within the so much regular locations. The revelation is disorienting and, therefore, those poems consult themselves, revise themselves, fashioning a discussion among self and soul that opens outward to incorporate different voices, fans, kids, angels, and ghosts. For James Longenbach, great distance makes the messages we ship sweeter. To be divided from ourselves is rarely to be on my own. “If the dominion is within the sky,” says the physique to the soul, “Birds gets there ahead of you.” “In time,” says the awakening soul, “I cherished my moment / physique greater / Than the first.” To reside, those poems insist, is to come up each day to the unusual beauty of the folk and locations we concept we knew top. Draft of a Letter is an unsettled and radiant paradiso, imagined within the death-shadowed, birth-haunted center of a protracted life.
Praise for Fleet River
“A sensibility this cogent, this sophisticated and austere is uncommon; even rarer is its facts that poetry nonetheless flows via all issues and transforms all issues within the process.”—Carol Muske-Dukes, l. a. instances ebook Review
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Extra resources for Draft of a letter
Locust shells. Petals. Number of times I’ve Told this story, Trochee, dactyl— Stresses in her name. • 45 • 4. Spirit of the river, Spirit of the sea. Because we want to be children forever I ran the stoplights whispering To myself Alone in the dark car. Nineteen, eighteen— Skills we practice for a lifetime Disappearing In a single turn: fingers On the keyboard self-delighting. House in which I write this. Pebbles in the sea. At thirteen she is Taller than her mother. Spirit of the sand beneath us.
I was never alone. 20 • • 4. He put down roots. He bought a dictionary—then, Because it was on sale, underwear. Wounded. Arrive. He wandered Freely among women in velvet dresses, Men in cutaways: the movement Of their bodies Vivid, spindly thighs. One bowed. One lifted Fingers to his lips. Until he left for his own country By a different route He’d never worn These boxers, slightly Elastic, little legs. I am wounded, I want to leave this place— • 21 • 5. When Jonah fled to Tarshish From the presence of the Lord The Lord sent out a tempest.
Spirit of the river, Spirit of the sea. Because we want to be children forever I ran the stoplights whispering To myself Alone in the dark car. Nineteen, eighteen— Skills we practice for a lifetime Disappearing In a single turn: fingers On the keyboard self-delighting. House in which I write this. Pebbles in the sea. At thirteen she is Taller than her mother. Spirit of the sand beneath us. Spirit of the tree. 46 • • Te n z o n e Look at your reflection. How do I greet Someone you’ve never seen?