They Say It’s New

By Clark Coolidge b. 1939 Clark Coolidge
He crackles the air in big fist
because it is turning, the night’s spine
and the fast floor of last year is now the wall of this
Those cracks should be flowers but there is no light
nor lights in the windless binnacle strewn
a slow rate of thought in the broad attention
What is shorn to say and then to leave
awake in the sleep, the pen without its cap
the numbers that will harm if not arrayed
The windows are not blank, the dark not empty
but solid as the mask held loose before
the eyeless active ridden hive
The sounds of the mind entire are
the wind below at the valley floor then a thumping above
as of rocks at work painting the wall
Turn out the lights and think invisibly
stain the turn of time
and hear the year before it’s there

Clark Coolidge, “They Say It’s New” from Sound as Thought: Poems 1982-1984. Copyright © 1990 by Clark Coolidge. Reprinted by permission of Green Integer.

Source: Sound as Thought: Poems 1982-1984 (Green Integer, 1990)

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Poet Clark Coolidge b. 1939


SCHOOL / PERIOD Language Poetry

Subjects Living, The Mind, Time & Brevity

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Tercet


Born and raised in Providence, Rhode Island, experimental poet and jazz musician Clark Coolidge has been connected to both the Language movement and the New York School. His poetry utilizes syntactical and sonic patterns to engage, and generate, meaning. In a 1968 poetics statement, he noted, “Words have a universe of qualities other than those of descriptive relation: Hardness, Density, Sound-Shape, Vector-Force, & Degrees of . . .

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SUBJECT Living, The Mind, Time & Brevity


SCHOOL / PERIOD Language Poetry

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Tercet

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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