Journal: April 19 : The Southern Tier

By Paul Blackburn 1926–1971 Paul Blackburn

look out the window in upstate New York, see

the Mediterranean stretching out below me

down the rocky hillside at Faro, three

years, two months, fourteen days earlier .

8:25 A. M.

Rosemary gone back to sleep, pink & white . I

stand at the livingroom window drinking coffee, open

the doors to the balcony . Warmth beginning, tho

I wrap my hands around the cup, count

fishing boats in the sunglare, moving shoreward now

slowly, or

sitting there motionless on the flat sea .

a fat blue arm stretches out from the coast, ripples

where wind and currents show

muscle below the blue skin of sea

stretched out below me .

                                                  The coffee’s

cold toward the end of the cup . I go

back to the kitchen for more hot . put

orange in bathrobe pocket, reach for knife, return

to the balcony with the fresh cup where the flat blue sea

fills my eye in the sunglare . stretches out below me.


The Southern Tier:    the maple outside the window

warms in the early sun . red buds at the ends of branches

commence their slow bursting . Green soon

                                                           Joan moves

                           her legs against mine in the hall, goes down to

start my egg . Carlos thumps the lower stairs . We move.


All our farewells al-

ready prepared inside us   .   aaaall our

deaths we carry inside us, double-yolked, the

fragile toughness of the shell   .   it makes

sustenance possible, makes love    possible

as the red buds break against the sunglight

possible green, as legs move against legs

possible softnesses     .     The soft-boiled

egg is ready now  .

                                                       Now we eat.

                                                                                        19  .  IV  .  71

Paul Blackburn, “Journal: April 19 : The Southern Tier” from The Selected Poems of Paul Blackburn. Copyright © 1989 by Paul Blackburn. Reprinted by permission of Joan Blackburn.

Source: The Selected Poems of Paul Blackburn (Persea Books, 1989)

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Poet Paul Blackburn 1926–1971

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

SCHOOL / PERIOD Black Mountain

Subjects Living, The Mind, Time & Brevity, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Home Life

Poetic Terms Free Verse


Paul Blackburn is best known as a Black Mountain Poet because of his role as contributing editor and distributor of the Black Mountain Review: and his subsequent inclusion with the group in Donald Allen’s influential New American Poetry anthology (1960). Although many of Blackburn’s concerns with formal innovation were shared by such faculty members of the experimental Black Mountain College as Robert Creeley and Charles Olson, . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, The Mind, Time & Brevity, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Home Life

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

SCHOOL / PERIOD Black Mountain

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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