O arrow landed deep in Harold’s eye—
pressing upward against the sky—
O light and steam.
(When the western windows
of the City go pink, the rooms behind them
lock shut with clouds.)
(Slipping down in the morning
to part around the skyrises, to marble
the rooftop shanties and gardens.)
And graying water tanks—
(Our water lifted
into the clouds—and me, drawing it
down into my cup, my breath
pressed to the shimmering surface.)
Brian Barker, the author of The Black Ocean (SIU Press, 2011) and The Animal Gospels (Tupelo Press, 2006).
In three books of poems published in the last six years, Wayne Miller has cultivated a voice like nothing else in contemporary American poetry. Elegant and meditative, his poems quietly probe a world that slides beneath our shifting perceptions, transformed by light and shadow, breath and air, sound and echo. They never shy away from large metaphysical questions about love, history, death, and the soul, weaving the concrete and the abstract into reveries replete with both intellectual and emotional truths.
His most recent book, The City, Our City, is his most ambitious yet. The City of the title is not any nameable city that can be located on a map, but a city of myth and artifact rising on some distant, dusty horizon of the imagination. This City doesn’t stand outside of time so much as contain all time with in it, a place where modern warfare bumps up against medieval plagues, where creation and destruction happen in the same fleeting breath. Here, lovers kiss in doorways and fights break out on desolate streets, and we wander with no foreseeable destination, filled simultaneously with the hope and dread of our own humanity.
And a reminder, you still have 10 or so days to sign up for 2012’s Big Poetry Giveaway. In addition to my collection, Two-Headed Nightingale, I’m giving away Bruce Snider’s Paradise, Indiana, and the Complete Poems by Marianne Moore. To enter the drawing, simply leave your name and contact information in the comments section below. As of this posting, there are a dozen entrants. Your odds are pretty good for winning a free book of poetry! Recipients will be announced here May 1, so be sure to check back.