Thursday, March 30, 2006

Poetry Thursday: Brian Teare

So I just found out about Poetry Thursday over at be present, be here, and decided that, it being Thursday, and poetry being on my mind, hey! I might as well join in.

This is a poem I just recently found online over at Blackbird. It's by Brian Teare, who just happens to be one of my favorite teachers over at New College, and whose work is just absurdly, intimidatingly good.


---

Lent Prayer

The way prayer is root to precarious : two crows creep
the steeple. Not winter,

not spring. Given a chance,
a season out of season will write

bastard pastoral, elegy
full of errant splendor and spent sheets of sleet, rain all spondaic

and unrelenting. Pallid nouns look familiar
but they're dead :

after thaw, after crocuses, even tulips : new snow, and robins
caught on a border without name, lost

to a scrim of frost, dozens
dead, each a lace of lice. The way soul has

no certain etymology, how weirdly what's rootless goes
wrong-like, fog

erasing syntax that holds
nouns in the sentence called landscape, looks like : streetlight tree

snowdrop stray-cat tow-truck leaves sidewalk snowmelt : except
what's visible

shifts, wind
arranging things,

the neighbor's lit window gone down the block like a dog
off its lead.

But all the small-town lights have left
for the Susquehanna

where they lean over water and rinse long-
billed birds into shallows, cattails

that shiver
the river like quills

sunk in dark ink. If I bring
to the banks what nouns I've found,

what of it?
Clean of scene they shine

in the mind like fish flick water open, switchblade-
quick : weathervane

horse-cart milk-pail police-tape
farmhouse snowplow : if

I put them back, I'll hate the tableaus
they make : cows

crapping in crabgrass; on Market St.,
little flags flapping; or two Amish girls

pressing curd through cloth;
dirty water. It's written :

the opera house burned
in 1906. What is it goes on living

in a town like this, between penitentiary and nicotine, the way form lives on
in both feign and fiction : arson

or accident, the plaque says this
is the original cornerstone : because

the root of error is wander,
who wouldn't want

out of a town so wrong? The current's fed under the bridge
like fabric to a sewing needle, each light

a small satin boat
stitched slow in folds.

Who wouldn't want to go
to them,

the lights? As prayer is
route to precarious, the river trembles on its treadle.

1 comment:

momester said...

One definition of a good poem is it sends you on a quest. This one will definately have me in the Ameircan Heritage Dictionary looking up word roots