Autobiography 2 (hellogoodby)

By Michael Palmer b. 1943 Michael Palmer
The Book of Company which
I put down and can’t pick up
The Trans-Siberian disappearing,
the Blue Train and the Shadow Train
Her body with ridges like my skull
Two children are running through the Lion Cemetery
Five travelers are crossing the Lion Bridge
A philosopher in a doorway insists
that there are no images
He whispers instead: Possible Worlds
The Mind-Body Problem
The Tale of the Color Harpsichord
Skeleton of the World’s Oldest Horse
The ring of O dwindles
sizzling around the hole until gone
False spring is laughing at the snow
and just beyond each window
immense pines weighted with snow
A philosopher spreadeagled in the snow
holds out his Third Meditation
like a necrotic star. He whispers:
archery is everywhere in decline,
photography the first perversion of our time
Reach to the milky bottom of this pond
to know the feel of bone,
a knuckle from your grandfather’s thumb,
the maternal clavicle, the familiar
arch of a brother’s brow
He was your twin, no doubt,
forger of the unicursal maze
My dearest Tania, When I get a good position in the courtyard
I study their faces through the haze
Dear Tania, Don’t be annoyed,
please, at these digressions
They are soldering the generals
back onto their pedestals
                                                                                                          for A. C.

Michael Palmer, "Autobiography 2 (hellogoodby)" from The Promises of Glass. Copyright © 2000 by Michael Palmer.  Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Source: The Promises of Glass (New Directions, 2000)

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Poet Michael Palmer b. 1943


SCHOOL / PERIOD Language Poetry

Subjects Living, The Mind, Time & Brevity, Relationships, Arts & Sciences, Philosophy


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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SUBJECT Living, The Mind, Time & Brevity, Relationships, Arts & Sciences, Philosophy


SCHOOL / PERIOD Language Poetry

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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