The One-Strand River: Poems, 1994-2007

The One-Strand River: Poems, 1994-2007

by Richard Kenney
     
 

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Fourteen years after his last book of poems, we have a glorious new volume from Richard Kenney, who has been hailed by The New York Review of Books as “one of the most gifted and multifaceted and original of American poets.”

In The One-Strand River, Kenney has tales to tell—of loves, births, and confounding politics—in lively

Overview

Fourteen years after his last book of poems, we have a glorious new volume from Richard Kenney, who has been hailed by The New York Review of Books as “one of the most gifted and multifaceted and original of American poets.”

In The One-Strand River, Kenney has tales to tell—of loves, births, and confounding politics—in lively, quicksilver language that surprises at every turn. We meet the poet as a middle-aged husband walking the dog, confiding, “Churlish / thoughts bedevil me, often. Sunshine; girls / half my age; the future; unseen perishing / armies.” He swings between surreal dawn vistas and the unsettling sight of seventh-grade girls circling his teenage son; between the pleasure of a New Year’s celebration “with Nipperkin” and—striking a note that is rare in contemporary poetry—satirical attack, with an eye on the news of the day. A master of many tones, Kenney recalls a nursery rhyme in the title poem—“Gray goose and gander/ How long have we together?”—and ponders the “one-strand river” that is the sea, with its one encircling shore and its tidal pull on both the landscape and the human heart.

Kenney is never a confessional poet, yet we meet a powerful mind here—that of a man who is always responding to provocations seen and unseen, taking pleasure in the possibilities of words themselves, tossing them up into the daily storm of our vexations and our perilous happiness.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307267634
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/29/2008
Pages:
192
Product dimensions:
6.25(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.75(d)

Read an Excerpt

THINGS

The scent of soap
As she went by
Lent me hope;
I can’t say why.

And the little laugh
In the young man’s eye
Was fully half
Of the blue of the sky.

Are these things things,
Or nothing at all?
What’s a thing?
What it recalls?

• • •

ALBA MINE

Now night’s abandoned diamond mine’s
Been dynamited open, love.
Crickets creak like weakened timbers.
Waken now in a vein of love.

Love, the slick on the eastern sea’s
Meniscus now is red again,
Is upward sun’s unbreaking egg
Bled together and round again.–

Again the mountain-crumpled moon’s
Losing pressure in the black tree,
And now it’s just invisible,
And now is breeze in the black tree–

A button at your open throat–
A button at your loosened sleeve–
A kiss crushed and all red
And roar of the sun in a slipped sleeve.

• • •

A POT OF TEA

Loose leaves in a metal ball
Or men in a shark cage steeping,
Ideas stain the limpid mind
Even while it’s sleeping:

Ginseng or the scent of lymph
Or consequences queasing
Into wide awareness, whence,
Like an engine seizing

Society remits a shudder
Showing it has feeling,
And the divers all have shaving cuts
And the future’s in Darjeeling–

Blind, the brain stem bumps the bars
Of the shark cage, meanwhile, feeding,
And the tea ball’s cracked, its leaves cast
To catastrophic reading:

Ideas are too dangerous.
My love adjusts an earring.
I take her in my arms again
And think of Hermann Göring,

And all liquidities in which
A stain attracts an eating,
And of my country’s changing heart,
And hell, where the blood is sleeting.

Meet the Author

Richard Kenney was born in Glens Falls, New York, in 1948 and is the author of three previous books of poetry: The Evolution of the Flightless Bird, Orrery, and The Invention of the Zero. In 1987 he received a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship. He is currently professor of English at the University of Washington and lives with his family in Port Townsend, Washington.

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