Page uses his poetic verse to create a cowboy legend.
— Read on poets.media/a-universe-within-verse
Page uses his poetic verse to create a cowboy legend.
— Read on poets.media/a-universe-within-verse
By Louise Glück
Quarterback Chapbook Series
Sarabande Books. $8.95. 20 pages.
Reviewed by Stephen Page
Autumn After the Fall
While I as reading Louise Glück’s chapbook “October”, I noted a theme that threaded throughout the poem–aftermath. October has always been a special month for me. A time of change. A time of clarity. It begins with the autumnal colors in full show and ends with the trees bare and sometimes a first snowfall. I remember October well when I was growing up. It was a month of crystal cognizance. The air smelled of damp earth and drying leaves. Each breath I took cleared my mind and brought in focus my sense of being with the world. I felt good. But, there was also this lurking feeling of finality. Another year had passed. Summer was over. I often asked myself, had I done what I wanted to do this past year, or was I in the same place is was last year? Had I accomplished what I needed to accomplish? Most often, I had mixed feelings, yeses and no’s, a sort of sweet melancholy–sad that the year was over but happy that another year was about to begin. I had another year to do what I wanted to do. Yes, as a child, the New Year was always in October, not in January. It was an end, and a beginning. Winter was on the way and, yes, it would be cold. There would be snow. But, snow to me meant snowball fights, snowmen, snow angels, snow-caves cut out in the banks on the side of the road that the snowplows piled up, and of course, snow days—those special breaks from school. Winter represents death to many people, but it meant fun and rest for me. Trees, plants, grass–they weren’t dead, they were just resting, sleeping late, waiting to wake up in spring and flourish in summer. After winter, there was spring and summer vacations, baseball, girls.
Life on earth is measured in seasons and renews itself yearly. For Glück, as I think it is for most North–Hemispherians, October is a sad month, but one that also has hope.
Part I of “October” goes like this:
It is winter again, is it cold again,
didn’t frank just slip on the ice,
didn’t he heal, weren’t the spring seeds planted
didn’t the nether end,
didn’t the melting ice
flood the narrow gutters
wasn’t my body
rescued wasn’t it safe
didn’t the scar form, invisible
above the injury
terror and cold,
didn’t they just end, wasn’t the back garden
harrowed and planted—
I remember how the earth felt, red and dense,
in stiff rows, weren’t the seeds planted,
didn’t the vines climb down the south wall
I can’t hear your voice
for the wind’s cries, whistling over the bare ground
I can no longer care
what sounds it makes
when I was silenced, when did it first seem
pointless to describe that sound
what it sounds like can’ change what it is—
didn’t the night end, wasn’t the earth
safe when it was planted
didn’t we plant the seeds,
weren’t we necessary to the earth,
the vines, were they harvested?
Something obviously traumatic has passed here. A scar has formed, terror has happened, something was planted but is no longer there (and I think it is more than just plants in the garden) for the “wind whistled over the bare ground.” The narrator was devastated by an occurrence, so much so she was “silenced.” Most notable is the poem’s form—short lines, long sentences—making the poem appear tall.
The entire poem continues like that–short lines, tall poem. And the there is a horrible sensation of after-violation sliding down the poem:
Violence has changed me . . . (repeated twice in part II)
everything that was taken away . . .
you can’t touch my body now.
It has changed once, it has hardened . . .
My body has grown cold . . .
balm after violence . . .
Tell me I am living,
I won’t believe you.
Death cannot harm me
more than you have harmed me . . .
the light has changed . . .
you will not be spared . . .
the unspeakable//has entered them . . .
I strained, I suffered . . .
So much has changed . . .
Yes, something has happened, and I don’t just think it is the harvest. Because of the form of the poem, and some of Glück’s references, it seems something very tall has come down, or collapsed. Something that was once there no longer is:
They eye gets used to disappearances . . .
Above the fields,
above the roofs of the village houses,
the brilliance that made all life possible
Become the cold stars.
Glück might be talking about an object, a tall structure (or structures, if you notice the plural is used in the relation between the words “disappearances” and “become”), or she might be talking about ideals (as she refers to often in part IV). She might be talking about both. Whatever the case, she uses the barren-field association of the month of October as representation of something monumental that no longer exists on the horizon. A careful reader will note that October obviously comes after September, and that two monumental somethings fell once in the month of September. Glück does spy a kind of hope though, as she leaves the poem on a positive note
my friend the moon rises:
she is beautiful tonight, but when is she not beautiful?
This Review first published in: Gently Read Literature
Read the review on the Issuu site: Gently Read Literature Issuu and turn to page 18.
Another Week Begins
By Stephen Page
When Jonathan turns off the highway the mud
in the road is a foot deep. He clicks his vehicle
into 4-wheel drive and creeps forward in first gear
so not to slide into one of the ditches. The white gates
of his ranch are open, El Misionero standing next
them. He rolls his window down and sighs. The air
smells green. Green. Green.
He drives to his office and talks with his capataz,
then they climb in the ranch pickup to go see a calf
cadaver. It was born early that morning with a curled-
neck deformity, and unable to reach its mother’s tit
or the water trough, it just stumbled around awhile and fell
on its side. The gauchos had skinned it and the vultures picked
it mostly clean, the eyes plucked out, the tongue sliced in half,
bits of intestine lying next to the spine, the heart and lungs mush
under the gristly ribs.
They drive to the Yellow House casco to see a pony cadaver.
Apparently, last night it leaped the fence around the
swimming pool and fell in the water. It lay on its side
on the grass where the yardkeeper placed it, its legs
stiff in the curled positions of swimming, yellow froth
tubed out of its nostrils. It was only three-weeks old.
Jonathan goes for a long walk, alone—he admires
the greening grass, the knee-high wheat, the sprouting corn,
the blooming chamomile, the calves and ponies leaping about
pastures spotted white with egrets.
He hears bees buzzing, mockingbirds singing—
and he keeps walking, walking; walking
past the pastures, past the Wood,
until he enters a fallow field.
As he approaches a small marsh
a flock of black ibis lift
and cloud away.
*this poem first published on madswirl
Like any week, we walk through cadavers to stand free. – mh clay
I wanted to title this “Monday, Monday,” but that sounded so familiar as to have already been used.
Two poems by Stephen Page on #BurningWord http://burningword.com/2011/01/stephen-page-poems/ #ranching #nature #SaveThePlanet
#poems #ranching #nature
The Day a Rabbit Fell Out of a Tree
In Lot 30,
next to the Corn Lot,
I started shooting parrots
out of a eucalyptus.
I hit one on my first shot—
through the branches
head first on the ground.
Then, behind me,
I heard a flapping of wings
and turned around quickly
only to see a rabbit
fall out of another tree
and thump listlessly upon a root
sticking up from the base of the trunk.
Was this a sign?
If I were Roman, Trojan, or Greek,
I am sure I would believe so.
I examined the rabbit.
It was limp and still warm
but there was no blood,
only a long slash
like a talon might make
on its side,
its muscles and ribs exposed.
Now, either a hawk dropped it,
frightened by my shotgun blast,
or Diana was playing with me.
“I don’t understand why distance
must be measured in nonnegative
The thicker part of the Wood
Has been cut
And becomes thicker still.
“If I face north,
distance to the south
is behind me.”
Every trunk branches
Ten times, and each branch becomes a tree,
Even though painted with herbicide and oil.
“Which way to Hope Ranch?”
“Oh you go back the way you came.
Post Maker lied.
The Bad Wood has returned.
Worse and without trails.
“Yesterday I walked all the way
to the Wood from my ranchhouse: 3 kilometers,
then back again: 6 kilometers in total
(or is that zero since I walked back
on the reverse azimuth?)
Yesterday I walked to the Wood.
Yesterday I walked back.
Yesterday I walked.
I want to return to the Wood,
To the way it was.
A Poem about Wheat @SmpageSteve #farming @HantzFarmsDet #plantsSing @ModFarm @sheilamgood pic.twitter.com/yC06naT0kg
Poetry by Stephen Page
While it is yet dark I slide from between
the sheets, pad to the kitchen, brew coffee,
and pack sweetrolls in a plastic bag. I strip
off my pajamas, shower myself with insect
repellent, and put on yesterday’s clothes. I
shoulder my backpack, and slip out the back
door, closing it quietly behind me. In the vestige
of moonlight I walk past the barn, feeling the dew
wet my ankles. Just inside the edge of the
Wood I breakfast on a treestump. Two barn
owls screech at my invasion and leave their
branch perch. A bat flaps violently by my
head. I roll marmalade around my tongue
and smell fecund earth spiced with decaying
leaves. A silver fox darts across a clearing,
and I unseat myself to wander the wood.
In the penumbra of trees I walk–I listen to
silence–I do not feel the weight of my
pack–I misplace time–an hour when I click
the light on my digital watch. The Myth
I seek does not appear but feel I was close
to finding it, or it finding me. A wooddove pops
its wings as it departs eucalypti mist auraed by
a vanilla sunrise. Treefrog croaks crescendo
then stop as I exit the treeline. A peach sun rises
behind a windmill as I cross the field to breakfast
a second time, this time with my wife.
In a lemon tree behind our ranchhouse, I discover
a newly made wasp nest bowing a brace of branches.
In the Room of the Dead
Grandfather slits open
A forty-pound fish
From anus to throat,
His nostrils flaring
At the effluvium.
Grandmother sits upon the lap
Of her gray-suited father,
Her pale dress fluttering
Above her chubby thighs,
Their skin dusted
With corn silk,
Stubble in the field
Your high-headed friend
Who prefers blue oxfords
And khakis with loafers,
Who planted the blooms
That perfume your garden,
Breathes ether and oxygen
Through a plastic mask
And winces at each needle prick
Of the vein-finding nurse.
You mother in lavender chiffon
Who swallowed every morning
whole garlic clove
Wheezes in a sanitary cloud
Of baby powder,
Her stomach cancer
Your father, a tall man
In a baker apron,
Sips aromatic yerba
In front of flock
Of sparrow, the birds
Of his diabetic
An antique wool blanket
Is folded neatly
Upon the foot of the bed,
And atop the cedar chest of drawers,
The sliver frames
Never quite tarnish to black,
But remain a constant state of gray,
The chromatic faces stilled
By the opening of the door.
these poems published in Zymbol
You are red-breasted, your song flute-like,
Your wings brown, your sharp eyes whitely circled.
A common day your voice makes remarkable;
So rare, you laid a single light blue egg.
As your mate vanished in northern flight,
Not perceiving reason, you cawed alarm
Plummeting before an olive-drab truck;
Callused-index-fingered riders caged you.
Escaping, you darted directly to a lawn
And plucked a burrowing worm; starving, you bore it
To your nestling, ravenous for her breath.
Your albino fledgling shudders on the edge
Of the nest, as summer winds sway the tree,
And below, a muddy river roars silently.
This poem origionally published in “The Timbre of Sand.”
“Still Dandelions,” a haiku collection by S. M. Page