“Jules Laforgue writes to say”
Jules Laforgue writes to say you’ve died aboard ship
In the jeweled harbor of Montevideo.
Was it a dirty rifle or a broken cup
At rest upon the mirror’s face he saw?
Efflorescence not a symbol, as simple
As reindeer swimming ashore in Uruguay
On Christmas morning. All symbols perish
At Christmas, and men are mute inside the newborn
Tides. The mirrors darken. Rifles will not fire.
The baby throws his cup against the pier,
And the pier collapses. Christ is alone.
The plague ships are forbidden the harbor.
Beauty for Beauty’s sake and only later
For the sake of others, newborn for a day.
“Sparrows hopping around”
Sparrows hopping around at all angles
And one becomes a little heap of flowers
In the shadow of my tilting tree.
Chide, chide the lowest branches.
The sun steps heavily, too heavily,
And Providence, Rhode Island crackles into leaf.
You say that Shelley is dead. I agree,
Although in my sleep he ties a tricolor balloon
To a basket of small animals, up.
The sun is crippled, hence the fires.
Shelley hops away at an unusual angle.
What of the animals?
All beneath the tree in their balloon
They go underground, the envy of God.
[Donald Revell is the author of eleven collections of poetry, most recently of The Bitter Withy (2009) and A Thief of Strings (2007), both from Alice James Books. Winner of the 2004 Lenore Marshall Award and two-time winner of the PEN Center USA Award in poetry, Revell has also received the Gertrude Stein Award, two Shestack Prizes, two Pushcart Prizes, a PEN USA Award for Translation, and fellowships from the NEA as well as from the Ingram Merrill and Guggenheim Foundations. He is also the author of four volumes of translation: Rimbaud’s The Illuminations (Omnidawn, 2009) and A Season in Hell (Omnidawn, 2007), Apollinaire’s Alcools (Wesleyan, 1995) and The Self-Dismembered Man: Selected Later Poems of Guillaume Apollinaire (Wesleyan, 2004). Revell’s critical writings include Invisible Green: Selected Prose (Omnidawn, 2005) and The Art of Attention: A Poet’s Eye (Graywolf, 2007). He lives with his wife, poet Claudia Keelan, and their two children in the desert south of Las Vegas and is a Professor of English and Creative Writing Director at UNLV.]
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