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Friday, October 19, 2018

Saturday's Poem

“Poetry’s medium is not merely light as air, it is air, vital and deep as ordinary breath.” – Robert Pinsky

Born in New Jersey on Oct. 20, 1940, Pinsky has been an essayist, literary critic, and poet laureate consultant to the Library of Congress.  A former saxophonist, he said being a musician was profoundly influential on his poetry, and the musicality of poetry was and is extremely important to his work.      Poetry, Pinsky said, is a vocal art, not necessarily performative but for reading to oneself or recalling some lines by memory.  For Saturday’s poem – from Pinsky’s 6-part City Elegies – here is:

III. House Hour

Now the pale honey of a kitchen light
Burns at an upstairs window, the sash a cross.   
Milky daylight moon,
Sky scored by phone lines. Houses in rows   
Patient as cows.

Dormers and gables of an immigrant street   
In a small city, the wind-worn afternoon   
Shading into night.

Hundreds of times before
I have felt it in some district
Of shingle and downspout at just this hour.   
The renter walking home from the bus   
Carrying a crisp bag. Maybe a store
Visible at the corner, neon at dusk.
Macaroni mist fogging the glass.

Unwilled, seductive as music, brief   
As dusk itself, the forgotten mirror   
Brushed for dozens of years
By the same gray light, the same shadows   
Of soffit and beam end, a reef   
Of old snow glowing along the walk.

If I am hollow, or if I am heavy with longing, the same:   
The ponderous houses of siding,
Fir framing, horsehair plaster, fired bricks
In a certain light, changing nothing, but touching   
Those separate hours of the past
And now at this one time
Of day touching this one, last spokes
Of light silvering the attic dust.

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