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Saturday, November 25, 2017

When lightning Strikes

A poet is someone who stands outside in the rain hoping to be struck by lightning.   
                                                                                                                    James Dickey
The onetime U.S. Poet Laureate (named in 1966) Dickey was a multiple award winner for a wide range of his poems and other writings.  He might be best known for his novel, the taut thriller Deliverance, also an acclaimed film by the same name. 

Born in Atlanta in 1923, he had a career in advertising before starting creative writing in the late 1950s.  His first book, Into the Stone and Other Poems, was published in 1960.   Buckdancer's Choice (1965) earned him a National Book Award for Poetry.  All 331 of his poems have now been collected in the 2013 work, The Complete Poems of James Dickey.   For Saturday’s Poem, here is Dickey’s,

                                At Darien Bridge

                                   The sea here used to look
                                   As if many convicts had built it,

                                   Standing deep in their ankle chains,
                                   Ankle-deep in the water, to smite

                                   The land and break it down to salt.
                                   I was in this bog as a child

                                   When they were all working all day
                                   To drive the pilings down.

                                   I thought I saw the still sun
                                   Strike the side of a hammer in flight

                                   And from it a sea bird be born
                                   To take off over the marshes.

                                   As the gray climbs the side of my head
                                   And cuts my brain off from the world,

                                   I walk and wish mainly for birds,
                                   For the one bird no one has looked for

                                   To spring again from a flash
                                   Of metal, perhaps from the scratched

                                   Wedding band on my ring finger.
                                   Recalling the chains of their feet,

                                    I stand and look out over grasses
                                   At the bridge they built, long abandoned,

                                   Breaking down into water at last,
                                   And long, like them, for freedom

                                   Or death, or to believe again
                                   That they worked on the ocean to give it

                                   The unchanging, hopeless look
                                   Out of which all miracles leap.

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