A Poem That Starts Out Wrong

By Landis Everson 1926–2007 Landis Everson
Put nothing down to distress the reader.
No barking dog.
No rustle in the place whispers belong
or photos of petals near collapse.
Erase oranges of confusing taste, a face
wrinkled or in pain,
a map with waterless rivers or water
without a bend,
still in darkness. Here, where mystery

beyond hope comes too near,
make a bright flight of leaves
descend, none to smear all our spotless
rivers. A map folds and unfolds, does not
bunch or wrinkle. Rainbows to last.
The First Endlessness of Eden.
This was the spot I was to start on, a leg
steps out of the lake,
a step falters instead into dashes that spread without prints onto the screaming bank.

Landis Everson, "A Poem That Starts Out Wrong" from Everything Preserved: Poems 1955-2005. Copyright © 2006 by Landis Everson. Reprinted with the permission of Graywolf Press.

Source: Everything Preserved: Poems 1955-2005 (Graywolf Press, 2006)

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Poet Landis Everson 1926–2007


Subjects Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Poetry & Poets, Nature, Arts & Sciences

Poetic Terms Imagery, Metaphor


Poet Landis Everson was born in Coronado, California. He studied at the University of California-Berkeley, where he was poetry editor of Occident and a member of the Berkeley Renaissance, a group of writers that included poets Jack Spicer, Robert Duncan, and Robin Blaser. After studying for an MA at Columbia University, he returned to the San Francisco area and became involved in a weekly workshop with his fellow Berkeley poets. . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Poetry & Poets, Nature, Arts & Sciences


Poetic Terms Imagery, Metaphor

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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