Information about the Desert City Poetry Series, contemporary poetry & poetics, and poetry readings & events in central North Carolina.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Donahue & Brasfield Reading Saturday, September 18th, 8pm, 2004

Please spread far and wide.....

Who: Joseph Donahue, author of Incidental Eclipse, the just published In This Paradise out from Carolina Wren Press, and Terra Lucida, Duke University English professor and collector of left-handed chainsaws.

Who: James Brasfield, winner of the PEN Award in Translation in 2000 for his work on The Selected Poems of Oleh Lysheha, NEA Fellow, Fullbright Scholar, undisputed holder of the spaghetti eating world's record for twenty years.

What: Desert City Poetry Series' 04/05 season, Oh yeah.

When: this Saturday, September 18th, 8pm, 2004.

Where: Internationalist Books, 405 W. Main Street, Chapel Hill, NC, 919-942-1740.

Why: "Children will read about the letters / that spell the world: fire & water, earth & air ... Every true image / continues the creation." "Knock your head against the ice. / Before it's too late / break through, look / you will see a miraculous world."

See you there.........

*Internationalist Books:

*James Brasfield: his book and a poem

*Joseph Donahue: a poem and a review

by James Brasfield

The gray light that is dusk, the mist
that gathers at the end of August,
the sudden drop of warmth in the coming dark,
the stillness of an arclight over the dim road,
and farther still, lamplight at a window,

the curtains drawn--there, a woman
puts a small supper at the table, pours
flavored water from a crystal carafe,
an heirloom like a root toward the river.
The stewed apple slices have darkened from days
of floating in the green jar.

And the man pours himself a vodka,
the first of many, and cuts the bread.
Tomorrow remains so far off.
Its burdens are as yesterday’s.

I know these things
from sitting at the table,
from walking the road. I know them
from a train passing through a town at night,
the wet streets, the dim station,
the streets again and another house

outside of town, the darkness everywhere
filling in the impossible space
a light is assigned, yet always a road
at dusk, the mist, the arclight
a hundred yards before the next,

and the road to a path through the forest,
a light at a window as if only
a light burned among the trees--
a candle on the chest of a corpse, at nightfall.

from In This Paradise
by Joseph Donahue


Are you the one whose
error has required you to be

a billow of moths, a sprig of gold
in the garden of a witch

a cut finger at the banquet,
the jewel forming from the blood

or the eel who says to the astonished boy
I feel myself pierced and dispersed.

Any minute, you could be
the stag leading the lost soul,

or a spatter along a rail crying
out to your sister: here I am.

Any minute you could be a lost spoon
or bones murmuring in the flowers:

Some of us are in disguise,
& some of us have been eaten.

Some of us are touched by beauty
& cannot control our thoughts . . .

Or ice glittering in the trees.
Or a gold leaf. Or a king walking

At evening through a blue orchard.
A moment ago, you were an old woman

with a fever, the ground opening at your feet,
hidden corridors aglow with torches.

Just now, you’re a child hiding
in a house of murderers . . .

And do you glory in what you may yet be,
a hungry crow, a wisp of silk,

a cloud less than breath in a chill,
a village caked in volcanic ash?

Are you the whitening sky?
Are you robins at rest in a tree?

(They could be the wounds of Christ.)
Are your consonants a ring of clouds?

Are your vowels the dark hollows
where you look for your twin?

Are you the one locked inside
the tower of an evil will?

Are you the drunk suitor with
a blank map, set adrift in a boat?

Are you the true bride,
weeping in your collar of nettles?

If you break a branch, fall asleep in a tree,
will you be a snake until a beggar

cups water to your lips?
If you burn a gossamer veil,

or stain a peach-colored shawl,
or scatter the ashes in the ravine,

will you be a seed in a wind
flying across a desert?


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