Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Without Such Absence

A "middle" twin of mine, Benjamin Vogt, has just published his second book of poetry,
 Without Such Absence.  

I am not surprised it is receiving wonderful reviews.

Benjamin Vogt’s Without Such Absence is a book filled with unanswerable questions, as if plenitude – of world, or body, or love – can be felt only framed by loss. Vogt loves the natural world and makes us love it, too, especially when he gives formal gardens voice. It’s his wit, and terror, and delight that frame these fine poems, finally, that speak the stories behind the old photographs in all our albums.  
-- Hilda Raz, author of All Odd and Splendid and What Happen

‘No one remembers unless they have a souvenir,’ writes Benjamin Vogt. In Without Such Absence, poems themselves become souvenirs. These are photographs of a lost America—wooden schoolhouses, clotheslines, faded flags, and strange gardens—a poetry so polished and formally rigorous that we cannot forget the places Vogt has captured. 
-- Jehanne Dubrow, author of Stateside and From the Fever-World

Here is a couple of Vogt's poems to enjoy...

Suddenly, Autumn

Is it here at the window where we truly see
the brown-leafed oaks, the drying grass,
the bulge of clouds that darkens asphalt roads?

Is it within a frame of measured faith and chosen
color, relief of temperatures in flux—the southern
wind that fishtails from the north in thirty minutes,

sun spots glancing blows through tattered canopies?
How everything is almost everything we feel?
Loosening cold clothes from our tired limbs,

the quick friction warming us against the air,
then against ourselves, between our knees, our
arms and torsos, bone and streaming lungs.

Is morning like hot tea gripping at your chest,
flooding down and through you like some
revelation, incantation of the perfect pitch,

choral song of waking, sparrow, passing cars?
Will emptiness feel as bold, will the space
our body’s voices leave be sacred words

that vision won’t speak, that sound won’t touch—
a place the mind can’t frame without such absence?

Japanese Garden
Enter through the hedge like wind slipping from itself a stained earthly veil. Step forward with calm to find a stone in your path—all flowers open slow. Beside the tea house rinse your hands and mouth to show you walk from rivers. Speak softly in shade, smell cool dew against your feet, hear nothing but light. Yatsuhashi leads across calm water, trains stars beneath the surface. Beside a black pine one stone looks up, one over; something speaks inside. Waves of sand move still around three green islands, yet mountains cry within. Weeping willows trace the arc of my back like clouds—one leaf trembles. Lotus in the pond; we must rest here awhile like wonted stones. As the sky, gravel; as rivers, flesh of peony; without me, you.

You can pre-order this volume (by September 3rd) and shipping is only $1.  Check it out!

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