A Sheaf of Pleasant Voices

By John Yau b. 1950 John Yau
There are rooftops
made of cloud remnants

gathered by a trader
dabbling in car parts and burlap

At night, I dive onto the breeze
fermenting above the dirt

and dream that I am a crocodile
a tin of shoe polish, an audience of two

In the morning, before the smallest yawn
becomes a noodle, I am offered

a ribbon of yellow smoke
I opt for fuzzy rocks and clawed water

and, of course, the perishable window
I am one of the last computer

chain errors to be illuminated
I tell you there are rooftops

on which the moon stops
being a cold jewel

And one by one the mountains
begin their descent from

the chambers of a lost book

John Yau, “A Sheaf of Pleasant Voices” from Paradiso Diaspora. Copyright © 2006 by John Yau. Reprinted by permission of Penguin, a division of Penguin Group (USA), LLC.

Source: Paradiso Diaspora (Penguin Books, 2006)

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Poet John Yau b. 1950

Subjects Living, The Mind, Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Biography

Poet, art critic, and curator John Yau has published over 50 books of poetry, fiction, and art criticism. Born in Lynn, Massachusetts in 1950 to Chinese emigrants, Yau attended Bard College and earned an MFA from Brooklyn College in 1978. His first book of poetry, Crossing Canal Street, was published in 1976. Since then, he has won acclaim for his poetry’s attentiveness to visual culture and linguistic surface. In poems that . . .

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SUBJECT Living, The Mind, Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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