I am crippled now, a hump made of rags
I know it is true, when the shipping fields
run over the crackling sounds,
and the hunched over buttercups mutter my name.
And when we speak for the first time
impossible shadows burning themselves down
in the bonfire of the meadow
that longish book, on eggshells and numberless winters written.
I want not to touch you, with all the eloquence of
the lowing wind, roughing itself to the sea
shaped by orphaned constellations, in the hilling grass
moving them, the sun yoked to its plough.
I know too, how the broken hearts mend, and a first kiss
a prisoner’s map, the curled lines
where other hands have lain,
the long dystopian night where nothing emptied sleeps.
But lofts of crows, watched from afar,
the fuselage of light, the purple in the thimble weeds
and ever barren tree,
the girding stake from which love looks down.
Overseer of the dewless night
the spinning bees and star fruit
the crucified paper cities, the doweling of the universe
crying still, to the one thing above.
If I have tasted this voice, only this voice
in the awful half-stilled nights,
crooked in the memory, in the splitting of a hair
the parable of a pneumonic sea.
And played again, on her tinfoil lips, the music box
of angels and beggars and rags
then after all, asking for more than one word
and in empty wombs, drunken lovers born.
selected by Glyn Maxwell, performed by Live Canon, London, Great Britain, 2011
ABOUT THE POET ~
Jeff Bien, • "A master poet, eloquent and erudite" CBC • "His poetry crackles with prophetic energy" Canadian, Literature • "Potent and persuasive" City Lights, San Francisco • “A ruthless truth-telling poet” John Millett, editor, Poetry Australia • “The silent prince of words…” Mercan Dede, Istanbul •, Jeff Bien is the author of numerous books and a critically acclaimed poet. His work has been widely recognized and his poems have been published in major literary journals and translated in more than 30 countries., He has received Canada Council and Ontario Arts Council Awards for recordings of his work as well as having been supported on numerous occasions by Foreign Affairs for readings in conjunction with the Canadian High Commission in London, and the Canadian Embassies in Paris and Havana., Over the years, his poetry has been the recipient of various distinctions including: most recently and most recently the 2014 Gwendolyn MacEwen-Exile Poetry Awaard for a selection of poems as well as poetry awards from Literal Latte (New York) and The New Welsh Review (Academy, Wales); a Canadian Authors Association and Stephen Leacock award for poetry; recognized by Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes for inclusion in the Arvon Anthology (Great Britain); nominated for a National Magazine Award (Descant); shortlisted on several occasions for the CBC Literary Award and the 2010 Arvon Award, by Britain's poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, as well as a performance of one of his poems, by Live Canon (Great Britain) selected by Glyn Maxwell in 2011, and an Arc Poem of the Year editor's choice award, as well as other national and international literary honours., He has been called “an astonishing lyricist” (George Elliot Clark), “another Whitman has taken root in Canada” (George Whitman, Shakespeare and Company, Paris), “a clear and authentic voice" REC, Belgrade. His work has been called “the kind of poem that should not have been able to have been written” (Gary Geddes) and “a display of verbal pyrotechnics such as I've never seen before.” (Irving Layton)., His most recent work includes a forthcoming collection of poems, “The Poet Sings”, and “Undressing the Illusion: Letters to a Young Mystic”, a compendium of letters., www.jeffbien.com firstname.lastname@example.org