Editor’s Note: To celebrate National Poetry Month, we are sampling some of the wonderful work published by small presses that focus on poetry. Each week throughout April, we’ll feature poems from a different press. This week, we offer selections from City Lights. Founded by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti not long after the famed San Francisco bookstore City Lights Books opened in 1953, City Lights Publishing has made a tradition of celebrating new and emerging voices — and has always maintained a special bond with readers of poetry (perhaps their most widely read volume is their Pocket Poets edition of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl), and cherished its roots among Beats and other champions of the counterculture.
We begin the week with Andrew Joron’s “Spine To Spin, Spoke To Speak,” from Trance Archive: New & Selected Poems, released this month from City Lights.
Next week, we’ll be presenting suites of poems from Graywolf Press.
Spine To Spin, Spoke To Speak
The pilot alone knows
That the plot is missing its
Why isn’t this “ominous science”
itself afraid, a frayed
Pray, protagonist —
Prey to this series of staggered instants.
Here the optic
Paints its hole, its self-consuming moment.
It is speech, dispelled, that
begs to begin to ache.
So that wind accelerates to wound, a dead sound
enlivened by the visitation of owls.
As pallid as parallel, the cry
Of the negative is not the negative
of the cry — an irreparable blessing —
A green world’s
“sibilant shadows” where
The syllables of your name are growing younger.
As involuntary as involuted, “who”
returns its noun
to each tender branch
That noon breaks into no one.
Point of view
Hovers, a circular cloud, over evacuated
That heard its herd bellow below
the terraced cities, the milled millions
as sold as unsouled, ghost-cargos.
A symptom of the Maddening —
Woman undressed of her flesh.
to Thou, & the flag of Thou.
How the fallen state
Meets the starry horizon, veil
against witness, hunger against void.
outermost Other —
Of the transparent Earth. Unspeculated
Streaked with mirror & stricken words.
You are neither the torn, nor the thorn.
You are the many-petalled
melting point of repeating decimals. . .
Has been burned into voice, a day-dark ribbon.
All signal is this
Andrew Joron, “Spine To Spin, Spoke To Speak” from Trance Archive: New & Selected Poems © 2010 by Andrew Joron. Reprinted with the permission of City Lights Books, San Francisco, California. www.citylights.com