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The Appeal of Antiques

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The intriguing comfort of an imagined past
is entered through objects
the same way we continue the present
but without nostalgia
Parents so long for happiness they say
one life is not enough
and live through their children
But children also live backwards through past candles
crank telephones   carriages
the ascendant animals that lived not in imagination
but in Kansas and before
there was an Oklahoma with its spotted sun
In those days a metaphor for Hell was the corn sheller
field corn shriven  shooting out cobs
the grindstone   razor strop   even the ladder of progress
from which Les Westfield slipped
on a mossy rung though his son held the ladder
and fell two stories:
one the feudal structure of the family   two the harmonic
of almost fatal necessity
as the maple stump entered his hip along with the difficult
remission of breath itself
an antique whose furious elaborations mimicked the rose

Allan Peterson, "The Appeal of Antiques" from All the Lavish in Common. Copyright © 2006 by Allan Peterson.  Reprinted by permission of The University of Massachusetts Press.
Source: All the Lavish in Common (University of Massachusetts Press, 2006)
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The Appeal of Antiques

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  • Poet and visual artist Allan Peterson earned degrees at the Rhode Island School of Design, Southern Illinois University, and the Claremont Graduate School. His books of poetry include Anonymous Or (2002); All the Lavish in Common (2005), winner of the Juniper Poetry Prize; As Much As (2011); and Fragile Acts (2012), which was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award. His chapbooks include Assurances (2011) and Omnivore (2009). Peterson’s poetry is known for its wild logic and painterly effects. Marilyn McCabe, reviewing Peterson in Rattle, noted, “his poetic eye takes in the world, as we view a painting, not an orderly left to right, but a scan, a darting from one interesting element to another.”
    As a visual artist, Peterson has exhibited widely, including shows with the Minnesota Center for the Book Arts, the El Paso Museum of Art, and the New Orleans Academy of Art. His...

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