The first, in sonnet form, by Robert Frost, published in 1942. The second a more contemporary song by Troy Jollimore.
Never Again Would Birds’ Song Be the Same
He would declare and could himself believe
That the birds there in all the garden round
From having heard the daylong voice of Eve
Had added to their own an oversound,
Her tone of meaning but without the words.
Admittedly an eloquence so soft
Could only have had an influence on birds
When call or laughter carried it aloft.
Be that as may be, she was in their song.
Moreover her voice upon their voices crossed
Had now persisted in the woods so long
That probably it never would be lost.
Never again would birds’ song be the same.
And to do that to birds was why she came.
A Witness Tree
A bend in the river.
A flaw in the surface.
How many continents
has this lone oriole
crossed to come balance
on our sagging clothesline,
and what urgent thing
is he trying to tell us?
That those who could translate
his song are lagging
a thousand miles
behind? Or that those
who can speak both his tongue
and ours have not yet
been born, that we will go
into the ground
and a thousand years pass
before their eyes open,
the wayward atoms
of our nests and tongues
having been dispersed,
reassigned, and repurposed
into their bright,
Syllabus of Errors
Troy Jollimore’s book, Syllabus of Errors, is my favorite new book of poems from last year. He’s a serious poet, and I find his work brave and lyrical. He’s also not afraid to poke fun at himself.
Here’s a sample:
No more swamp existence for you, with all
its pleasures, all that rooting around
in forgotten quarters for forgotten nickels.
No more meretricious jazz piano
eliding your way between gross destinations,
unreviewed memoirs by former conundrums,
videos of venal comebacking musicians
going viral on the spiral screen. No more
slowly starving cathedrals into being,
no more convalescing by feel, no more
nosing out the neglected harmonica part
that was meant to fluff out the flourish but got
buried so deep in the mix you could get
the bends coming up from that. No more Continue reading “Best poetry book from 2015” →
Yes, I know, it’s Tuesday again. What can I say? As always, life before poetry. But today I have a poem by Troy Jollimore, a recent Squaw connection, whose book Tom Thomson in Purgatory, won the National Book Critics Circle Award. One section of the book has poems that give a nod to Berryman’s Dream Songs. Troy’s alter ego is not Henry, but Tom Thomson. Here’s one of my favorites:
Tom Thomson in Retrospect
He had a good run. Ran like hell, in fact,
toward the wisdom and away from pain.
(Except he got them mixed up, it turned out.) Continue reading “Poetry Monday” →