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Kintsugi

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He slips on ice near a mailbox — 

no gemsbok leaps across the road — 

a singer tapped an eagle feather on his shoulders — 

women washed indigo-dyed yarn in this river, but today gallium and germanium particles are washed downstream — 

once they dynamited dikes to slow advancing troops — 

picking psilocybin mushrooms and hearing cowbells in the mist — 

as a child, he was tied to a sheep and escaped marauding soldiers — 

an apple blossom opens to five petals — 

as he hikes up a switchback, he remembers undressing her — 

from the train window, he saw they were on ladders cutting fruit off cacti — 

in the desert, a crater of radioactive glass — 

assembling shards, he starts to repair a gray bowl with gold lacquer — 

they ate psilocybin mushrooms, gazed at the pond, undressed — 

hunting a turkey in the brush, he stops — 

from the ponderosa pines: whoo-ah, whoo whoo whoo — 

Source: Poetry (April 2017)

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This poem originally appeared in the April 2017 issue of Poetry magazine

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Kintsugi

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  • Arthur Sze was born in New York City in 1950, and educated at the University of California-Berkeley. Known for his difficult, meticulous poems, Sze’s work has been described as the “intersection of Taoist contemplation, Zen rock gardens and postmodern experimentation” by the critic John Tritica. The poet Dana Levin described Sze as “a poet of what I would call Deep Noticing, a strong lineage in American poetry. Its most obvious and influential practitioner is William Carlos Williams; its iconic poem, ‘The Red Wheelbarrow.’ Dispassionate presentation of ‘the thing itself,’ ‘glazed with rain/water’ (or any particular) is its prevailing attribute… [yet] Sze’s attention is capacious; it’s attracted to paradox; it takes facing opponents and seats them side by side.” Though Sze’s early work, including the books The Willow Wind (1972) and Two Ravens (1976), was marked by its lyrical imagism, his later work has included many long, linked poems that take...

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