[He stopped part way across the field to]

By Michael Palmer b. 1943 Michael Palmer
He stopped part way across the field to
sit down and rest. An eagle
descended from the sky and an angel with the face of death

Before I had a name
I came out of a place where there wasn’t a door
holding my breath

in slippery hands. Door to wall
and back again. The things these were   
The modified currents of air

at which the dancers are taught to stare
whenever they turn
to go but instead fall over

at the idea of taking an ordinary walk
for example to the Post Office
or a restaurant. And all the original atoms

of water and skin
we think we can find there
if we try. This is not Alaska

and the sun-dial   
is not the sun secretly dying
during the night

Michael Palmer, "[He stopped part way across the field to]" a part from The Book Against Understanding from The Lion Bridge: Selected Poems 1972-1995. Copyright © 1998 by Michael Palmer. Used by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

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

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Poet Michael Palmer b. 1943

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

SCHOOL / PERIOD Language Poetry

Subjects Living, Death, Sorrow & Grieving, Nature, Stars, Planets, Heavens, Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Biography

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 Living, Death, Sorrow & Grieving, Nature, Stars, Planets, Heavens, Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

SCHOOL / PERIOD Language Poetry

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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