H

H

By Michael Palmer b. 1943 Michael Palmer
Yet the after is still a storm
as witness bent shadbush
and cord grass in stillness
 
sand littered with the smallest of fragments
whether shell or bone
That city we are far from
 
is still frozen, still in ruins
(except its symmetries be renewed
by sleep, its slant colors redeemed)
 
Nothing has changed but its name
and the air that it breathes
There’s still no truth in making sense
 
while the ash settles, so fine that
planes keep falling from the sky
And the name once again to be the old one
 
Saint Something, Saint Gesture, Saint Entirely the Same
as if nothing or no one had been nameless in the interim
or as if still could be placed beside storm
 
that simply, as in a poem
Have you heard the angels with sexed tongues,
met the blind boy who could see with his skin,
 
his body curled inward like a phrase,
like an after in stillness or a letter erased
Have you seen what’s written on him
 
as question to an answer or calendar out of phase
Add up the number of such days
Add illness and lilt as formed on the tongue
 
Add that scene identical with its negative,
that sentence which refuses to speak,
present which cannot be found

Michael Palmer, "H" from At Passages. Copyright © 1995 by Michael Palmer.  Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Source: At Passages (New Directions, 1995)

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Poet Michael Palmer b. 1943

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

SCHOOL / PERIOD Language Poetry

Subjects Living, Time & Brevity, Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets, Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life

Poetic Terms Tercet

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, Time & Brevity, Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets, Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

SCHOOL / PERIOD Language Poetry

Poetic Terms Tercet

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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