[Poetry] The Book of Breezes, By Chris Nealon | Harper's Magazine

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[Poetry]

The Book of Breezes

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Then your curiosity returns to you
Just a little wet with tears
I welcome it home since I’ve been wondering—
At evening—what is violet saying?—
It speaks to the part of me that wants it both ways
Dim light, square piles,
The prospect of this pen scratching—
And on the other hand, how do we defeat the vampires
I think Kent Monkman gets it
From out of the tempest a wash of color brings the dawn in Resurgence of the People
Feather-light and obdurate
The ache could break you but it’s also comic
Caliban and Trinculo, sharing a blanket, looking like one animal,
Is that what you wear to the great arrival?
High heels—broken shackles—

Well she said if you put it in a pot you have to water it
Referring I think to poetic form
I am a little proud of these petunias
And though I imagine I prefer the wilderness to gardens I know it’s just the wishful thinking of the suburbanite
Good morning, weeping cherry
I do still think my favorite kind of line is long,
The flung arm of a dancer,
Maybe dancing for Kyle Abraham,
Trained to let the fingertip release what was launched in the hip,
Saying, Godspeed, don’t you worry about me—
But lately it’s stately,
Like you’re hoarding the phonemes in case of disaster—
I stepped away for a second to rummage in the sounds and the sounds became an hour
Hey now, says the river birch, I may not sway each day but you don’t have to tend me
No! I cry—
But it’s already happened,
It wasn’t even poetry—
Godspeed, you blurt
And off goes your child

Early mornings by the circle window
Thumbing through that journal
Your writing is a wash
I mean a wash of movement,
Ascenders and descenders—
You flip back through memory in your funny scrawl,
It’s spidery and overeager but it has integrity,
A child’s sense that maybe ten degrees is a good tilt for the hand,
That knot of education down in the muscle, carrying the thoughts along,
Or rhythms—is this humming? Woodsmen hum—you play with duration,
Matching it with vowels pealing—
April had a higher ceiling
I mean more assonance than average—a tilt of maybe ten degrees—
Like your funny angle on America, built on westbound flights with headphones on—
Relief from paranoia brought by aeriality and melody—
Here comes Gregory—or there he goes—
Keening his outro high above the place the tune took in the body of the song,
That end-of-the-novel feeling, no, don’t go!
Rue du Départ—
Pam—we’re scattered now and long past education—
“Way over yonder in the minor key,” remember how you used to hear it as “the monarchy”?
What a wonderful invention—
The blurring, not the king—
And what a beautiful word, yonder

 is the author, most recently, of the poetry collection The Shore.



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