By Michael Palmer b. 1943 Michael Palmer
You can say the broken word but cannot speak
for it, can name a precise and particular shade
of blue if you can remember its name
(Woman of the South, New Lilac, Second Sky?)

As the light, close to blinding, fell—falls
in bars across a particular page, this
then another, some other
followed far too closely by night

Or as the sleeping
pages recall themselves, one by one,
in dream-riddled, guarded tones,
recall themselves from path

to sloped meadow, meadow
to burnt shore, shore
to poised wave, dismay
to present, any present

of the bewildered and the buried alive
(we’ve been told they were buried alive)
Is there a door he hasn’t noticed
and beyond it a letter which created the door

or claims it created a door
which would open either way

“Wheel” by Michael Palmer, from The Lion Bridge, copyright © 1998 by Michael Palmer. Used by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.

Source: The Lion Bridge (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1998)

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Poet Michael Palmer b. 1943


SCHOOL / PERIOD Language Poetry

Subjects Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics


Michael Palmer was born in New York City and educated at Harvard in the early 1960s, where he encountered Confessional poetry. His opposition to Confessionalism found root in a developing poetics when he attended the landmark 1963 Vancouver Poetry Conference, a three-week gathering where he met Robert Duncan, Robert Creeley, and Clark Coolidge. Correspondence with those three poets greatly influenced Palmer’s early development . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics


SCHOOL / PERIOD Language Poetry

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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