Pulitzer Poetry 100

Pulitzer Poetry 100

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My car took the curve of a curve, just past the exit to Los Alamos where Oppenheimer said the infinite imploded finite space— though he couldn't have imagined the atom pressed into the cave inside the mesa that opened into the buffalo who could turn into a bear, who could be the beast.…


In Lake Forest, a suburb of Chicago, a woman sits at her desk to write me a letter. She holds a photograph of me up to the light, one taken 17 years ago in a high school class in Providence. She sighs, and the sigh smells of mouth wash and tobacco. If she were writing by candlelight she would now be in the dark, for the man she’s about to address in her odd prose had a life span of 125th of a second in the eye of a Nikon and then he politely asked the photographer to get lost, whispering the request so as not to offend the teacher presiding...…


Standing up on lifted, folded rock looking out and down— The creek falls to a far valley. Hills beyond that facing, half-forested, dry —clear sky strong wind in the stiff needle clusters of the pine—their brown round trunk bodies straight, still; rustling trembling limbs and twigs listen.…


...like Joanna saying Mother, we’re Afro-Americans now! What did she know about Africa? Were there lakes like this one with a rowboat pushed under the pier? Or Thomas’ Great Mississippi with its sullen silks? (There was the Nile but the Nile belonged to God.) Where she came from was the past, 12 miles into town where nobody had locked their back door, and Goodyear hadn’t begun to dream of a park under the company symbol, a white foot sprouting two small wings.…


There in Key West, the singer lies asleep, perhaps under a fan, after playing late at the café. They kept her playing and singing by the edge of the warm gulf (after she’d watched the sun drop into it, staying to cup Hesperus in her small hands against the wind that rises suddenly then, Until his flame caught) – they wouldn’t let her stop at one o’clock. Now the current runs past the island very fast as if in panic. But the trees flower calmly in the heat outside her house.…


sea-lions and birds, sun through fog flaps up and lolling, looks you dead in the eye. sun haze; a long tanker riding light and high.…


If the parrots followed Geronimo from Guadaloupe in a dream could we imagine that frantic air now where Route 66 Casino rises on red pylons that hold up the skittering dice and the breeze of the shuffle as we drive into the wager and stakes of High Limits, the wheels of fortune spinning, the cash-out buttons popping, simulacra of feathers, silver, beads, the blur of pots in the rearview mirror.…


Where the two rivers come together – one cold, one desert-warm – the party beached the raft to swim. A blue aileron, looking new, lay on the bank and Dennis put his shirt and bluejeans in it, out of the wind that had blown his hat away. Across the canyon, silver in the sun, the fuselage glinted. The wreck was ten years old, two liners that had come together in broad day, dropping their metal feathers and two tribes of travelers who settled then where the wind told them to settle.…


In 1965 my parents broke two laws of Mississippi; they went to Ohio to marry, returned to Mississippi. They crossed the river into Cincinnati, a city whose name begins with a sound like sin, the sound of wrong—mis in Mississippi.…


Out on the high "bird islands," Ciboux and Hertford, the razorbill auks and the silly-looking puffins all stand with their backs to the mainland in solemn, uneven lines along the cliff's brown grass-frayed edge, while the few sheep pastured there go "Baaa, baaa." (Sometimes, frightened by aeroplanes, they stampede and fall over into the sea or onto the rocks.)…

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