Saturday, November 03, 2007

Josh Hanson


For a poem like a city, like a man:
gone light at the extremity,
thinned in sprawl—the river was once
a highway, a heart-sluice of speech—
ribs of bridges arcing, shoulder to shoulder,
you see: a poem of hemispheres,
lolling, too large for its frame, for a frame,
some form lacking locus, some lie
and our knowing, for our unknowing,
for all of these, I am and have become.

New Harmony, Indiana

Between the new
                             and the new world 
                                                            is ranged
a sea so wide to warp the pure idea:

that is to say, 
                     the movement is downward:
below the whiskey still,
                                       the unconscious,
down to the ground, 
where we hear our blood:
                                          the knocking of the rails.
The English
                    couple on the train 
thought the Sierras 

There’s no part of England
not tramped over twice a day: 


We were children, would make our loaves of dust,
so we thought: 
                      Throw your possessions away!
or let the railroad line do it for you:
in the city, 
                 our things outlasted us
                                                        as they do.
And today, the English ran,
smoke and ash up from the tunnels:
spanning every sea:
                                Father’s Day,
great hawk above the hill, 
                                                         yellow and calm, 
and the ravens came down
battering it, tearing its wing, crying,
and the hawk, now hurt, still circled: 
                                                              the cries
no allegory, I saw it happen: 
the hawks have all fled: 
                                        sing crow-caw, crow-caw
and the leaders answer in turn: 

But ours was but the madness of the young,
California to Chicago and on
                                                New York, 
that last leg where the trains aged 
                                                         a decade, 
the lines snaking on dark:
                                          a tunneled world 

                           (the movement is downward).

A hundred journeys later, pushing 
the West’s end, the wide plains of Washington,
dry grasses and dune, 
                                   swatches of green land
where irrigated, and then sudden miles
of farmed poplar planted less than eight feet
between and extending back from the road
                   to the driver’s eye
                                                    screen upon 
moving screen: 
                                         and a ways beyond, 
fields of powerlines,
                                 wires glistening white 
beautiful in their way, 
                                     stretching toward the horizon:
the natural image:
                               beyond the natural.

No, not that exactly, but a nature
that knows the human, more than landscape
or its undoing.
                          Dominion, perhaps—
Listen to the old man talk tomatoes—
it is not an art—what will grow will grow,
but taste the fruit…
                                The parallelogram
of Owen; 
              little more than the raised beds
of the gardener, though extrapolated
metaphor: we all are the fruits,
meant for more temperate climes, but hearty,
well, hearty enough, if lacking insight:
we set out, the whole human race,
moving ever-downward,
                                           ever in love.

Josh Hanson lives in Sheridan, WY with his family. He edits the online journal Eucalyptus: a Journal of the Broken Narrative as well as End & Shelf, which presents free online chapbooks.