The End of Landscape

By Randall Mann Randall Mann
There's a certain sadness to this body of water
adjacent to the runway, its reeds and weeds,
handful of ducks, the water color
manmade. A still life. And still
life's a cold exercise in looking back,
back to Florida, craning my neck
like a sandhill crane in Alachua Basin.
As for the scrub oaks,
the hot wind in the leaves was language,
Spanish moss—dusky, parasitic—
an obsession: I wanted to live in it.
(One professor in exile did,
covered himself in the stuff as a joke—
then spent a week removing mites.) That's
enough. The fields of rushes lay filled
with water, and I said farewell,
my high ship an old, red Volvo DL,
gone to another coast, another peninsula,
one without sleep or amphibious music.
Tonight, in flight from San Francisco—
because everything is truer at a remove—
I watch the man I love watch
the turn of the Sacramento River, then Sacramento,
lit city of legislation and flat land.
I think of Florida, how flat.
I think of forgetting Florida.
And then the landscape grows black.

Randall Mann, "The End of Landscape" from Breakfast with Thom Gunn. Copyright © 2009 by Randall Mann.  Reprinted by permission of The University of Chicago Press.

Source: Breakfast with Thom Gunn (The University of Chicago Press, 2009)

 Randall  Mann


Randall Mann’s poems are often set within the landscape of Florida or California. Influenced by Philip Larkin, Elizabeth Bishop, and Donald Justice, Mann’s poetry—at once vulnerable, unflinching, and brave in its ambivalence—explores themes of loss, attraction, brutality, and expectation. Of his preference for working in form, Mann says, “Form helps me approach more comfortably the personal, helps me harden argument.”

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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