For many, many reasons, I’m unable to review a lot of the books I read. Instead of putting together a “Best of the Year” list, I thought it might be more interesting to create a “Books I Didn’t Review But Really Liked” list. Below, then, are a handful of titles I thoroughly enjoyed, along with an excerpt of a poem that I thought was particularly swell:
Blaser, Robin. The Holy Forest: Collected Poems of Robin Blaser. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2006.
from “Image-Nation I (the fold”
the participation is broken
fished from a sky of fire
the fiery lake pouring itself
to reach here
that matter of language caught
in the fact so that we
meet in paradise in such
times, the I consumes itself
the language sticks to
his honey-breath she is
the path of a tale, a door
to the perishing moonshine,
holes of intelligence
supposed to be in the heart
Gridlley, Sarah. Loom. Richmond, CA: Omnidawn Publishing, 2013.
from “Shadows of the World Appear”
It isn’t difficult to remember
how it went.
A wordless world would be a relief
until it expects you to see a horse.
Try to sing and stand where the aspens quiver.
The breeze will always
be almost there. Go back those few steps:
it isn’t difficult to remember:
the wind will always shine as if
it loved its armored riders.
Hall, Joe. The Devotional Poems. Sommerville, MA: Black Ocean, 2013.
from “Trailer Park”
In an algorithm of trees exploding in your face, shaved from soap
in a prison cell, in a pair of yellow finches
alighting from high power lines over all these dudes
lying on their beds, palming their cocks, waiting for me
leached from circuits in a baroque array of evolving graphical
representations of a black economy, cancer, subverting process,
O Beast! O Christ!
in the mother fucking sound and the mother fucking light
the iterations of thunder, the bass so high
it hurls you into the grass, Beast!
Hass, Robert, ed. The Essential Haiku: Versions of Bashō, Buson, & Issa. New York, NY: Ecco, 1994.
from Bashō’s “Learn from the Pine”
Learn about pines from the pine, and about bamboo from the bamboo.
Don’t follow in the footsteps of the old poets, seek what they sought.
The basis of art is change in the universe. What’s still has changeless form. Moving things change, and because we cannot put a stop to time, it continues unarrested. To stop a thing would be to halve a sight or sound in our heart.
Wieners, John. Selected Poems: 1958-1984. Santa Barbara, CA: Black Sparrow Press, 1998.
from “Poem for Painters”
but that two parallels do cross
And carry our soul and bodies
together as the planets,
Showing light on the surface
of our skin, knowing
that so much of it flows through
the veins underneath.
Our cheeks puffed with it.
The pockets full.
Wilkinson, Joshua Marie. Swap Isthmus. Sommerville, MA: Black Ocean, 2013.
from “Upholsterers’ Moon”
so then the moon
drifting way too close
going through treeline when
a voice in the radio
accidentally says your name
Xu, Wendy. You Are Not Dead. Cleveland, OH: Cleveland State Poetry Center, 2013.
from “We Are Both Sure To Die”
Clutching a tiny molten piece
of someone else’s life. I tried sleeping
in a bed made of heavy light. I tried moving
out into the forest where everything
was a deer. Say you will be nothing or
beside me. How best do you correspond
in the darkness of a year? But look the year
rolls over and gives me a new face. Now
you go toward the ocean with a terrible
spirit of discovery. There is getting to know
your body and disowning it. The ocean says you
are not dead. What else did you want
it to announce?
Zukofsky, Louis. “A.” Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1978.
Together men form one sky.
The sky is a man,
You must know this to understand
Why places are different
And things new and old
Why everywhere things are different,
You cannot find out
By looking at skies alone
But from their effects.
One sky is rich in each of us,
When a child is conceived
It gets a sky for a gift.
I would suggest checking out all these books if you already haven’t. Each one will melt your face in their own special way.