Poem For The Hartford Public Library

February 28, 2013 — 0


The Hartford Public Library. Photo courtesy of WebJunction.


  There was a clearing, a readiness for first bells, an opening for the outpouring.  A hand was raised: How much of the past would have to be overlooked? He stings, he bites, he is absolutely convinced, and all the time he figures himself as the heedless butterfly that flutters over the margin of the pages.  Lizards bask in the walls, orange trees in flower and fruit together, the berries of grapes already flushed with color and growing tight. I repented of my resolve to leave here, in which everything is meant for you and nothing need be explained.  The poem is the cry of its occasion, I said, part of the reverberation. What is this house if not of the sun?  The shirt of fire was ready for the wearing.  In place of "I promise to" we may have "I shall," and yet to learn something new from this -- how inexact, fluid and submersible instead of a bed of flat ground. A million words a year into the one book I never thought I'd write. Every night they could read it, take a week to understand it, longer to ever believe it. Just one example, then: To the worm the corpse is a pleasant sight. He learns from it that greatness once existed. Never touching, we would never make a thing. I repented of my resolve to leave here.  I dressed, strolled slowly up the stony path between vineyards in the sunspeckled shade of the olives, once possible and thus possible again, never quite sure what I'm missing.    

  I had the honor of speaking at the Hartford Public Library in Hartford, Connecticut, earlier this week.  I arrived a few hours early and wandered the stacks of books.  This is a "found poem" -- a poem I "wrote" while there, using only words and phrases from ten books I chose randomly off the shelves.  (For a list of books sampled, see below.) I recited the poem as part of my talk on the future of the public library system.   SOURCES (All from the Hartford Public Library) Secret Gardens, by Alan Toogood As We Were, by E.F. Benson The Wallace Stevens Journal, Volume 36, #2 How To Do Things With Words, By J.L Austin Untimely Meditations, by Nietzsche Will The Circle Be Unbroken, By Studs Turkel Troy And Its Remains, by Dr. Henry Schliemann    



February 20, 2013 — 0

from Hush Sometimes, you ask About the world; sometimes, I answer back. Nights Return you to me for a while, as sleep returns sleep To a landscape ravaged & familiar. The  dark watermark of your absence, a hush.
                                                                                       - David St. John © 1994


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