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Shadow Behind Eclipse
for John Ashbery


When he died, a temperature went down
Trees in the sky above Flatirons, tremor there
Oh didn’t, then did     See?
We were driving in the canyon moons ago
       when he had said then “closing in”
Fool for this love
He was our drumming ritual if you were a
       a berserker
       and willed by constellations
He was our prize for being born
This world through school time, through bliss
through saltiness in the question
Can gentlemen do without?
Never retreat from scrutiny
       or miss the enemy, burnt leaf smell like resin
He was our fear of a sentence half-dreamed
       if we couldn't seize the whole
He was our vessel
      cave and boot
       train ride to the province
       meandering by river
Panic to be left out of this
Landscape, a picnic
Whole tome memorized, many colors
He was our vanguard of non-self,
       scent and doubt
Of deep carriage into the unknown
What do you know of it
     if you know him not?
When he did laugh he did and muse
That was a blue eye special
He was putting things
     next to one another
   you too somehow included
They you it -- things -- didn't have to bond
     but in poetry happen
And now listen to his voice with
    eyes gone wild for flowers
Scratchy reel to reel, 1966
Sacred fury of a primordial world
Half mannish garb on the sentence
     a profile in the hallway
     across all crystal neuro pathways
Mirror, mirror?
Up to nature and we had a glimpse
He was our respite,
Midnight excursions off limits
Sometimes a candle at the brain wondering “fallen star”
What rhymed with it?
“Espoir”, hope?
Blood heart, held supine
He was our cosmography in a better world
     you could count on, relief, release



Anne Waldman

Anne Waldman is the author of the forthcoming Trickster Feminine (from Penguin) Voice’s Daughter of A Heart Yet To Be Born (Coffee House Press) and Extinction Aria. (Pied Oxen). She is the Artistic Director of the Jack Kerouac School’s Summer Writing Program at Naropa  Boulder, June 10-30, whose theme this year is The Capitalocene.


The Brooklyn Rail

OCT 2017

All Issues