David Greenberg attended Yale University and the writing seminars at Johns Hopkins University, organized with homeless men and women in New York, and was a policy advocate for the Coalition for the Homeless. Currently a doctoral candidate in urban policy at MIT, he works with a community development trade association in Massachusetts. His poems have been published in such journals as the Colorado Review, New Republic, and Ploughshares. Planned Solstice is his first book.
Planned Solsticeby David Micah Greenberg
In David Greenberg's Planned Solstice, the natural and material worlds are provocatively juxtaposed, so as to affirm serious explorations of our place within them. Greenberg's considerations are vast, invigorating, and challenging; his poems take on charged historical and political subjects—civil wars at home and abroad, the World Trade Center's destruction,… See more details below
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In David Greenberg's Planned Solstice, the natural and material worlds are provocatively juxtaposed, so as to affirm serious explorations of our place within them. Greenberg's considerations are vast, invigorating, and challenging; his poems take on charged historical and political subjects—civil wars at home and abroad, the World Trade Center's destruction, issues of race and difference—and handle them with utter aplomb and freshness.
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Read an ExcerptPlanned Solstice Poems
By DAVID MICAH GREENBERG
UNIVERSITY OF IOWA PRESS Copyright © 2003 David Micah Greenberg
All right reserved.
Chapter One HABITAT
What incident to start with, incident of research adamantine: serviceberry, shellbark, gathering maples staghorn red sumac, wordless pattern.
Morning is riven in starting. When patterned in research, lilacs stand in the calm many-bodied lake. What face should appear in it?
Equal in light, the hemlock will temper branch above water. Loose birds bead their song waiting in the lake. But democracy is not awakening
contrasts. I want a new voice that is not imitation but description, could strip the cattails of their thin muzzle, the sun of its brown
sheen today. The ferns by the water, half turned up, touched, have taken root near a patch of drying sharp broad grass. I part them and find
a hardening sound, a buzzing, egglike, clump. Next to it a pod has split as cross sections of a ship. This is the course of the water as it comes down from waiting:
with a rustling sound like thickening, water falls on pools water the same level as the sky chained of morning, half-chained; a day is enough.
In disagreement and sympathy origins countenance daily the ever-stricken plan whose conclusions seem inevitable only from that course.
Water and arch, in arched meadows of sea green divides the swells, green committees riding the skin of nations, riding down and flaying it down the St. Lawrence, to Indians the Canada, which is Canada.
THE HOLE IN THE OCEAN
Hovering in the air were two luminous shapes. They turned, balanced in a pose of surrender. Water poured into the lower world, in channels unsolved by busy tides and fish. Then a phrase of music is misheard, and the green Orpheus descends and strikes a counterweight to time rising beatifically.
With the more subtle water of routing revelation is wet in skein. There is no closing, the sluice burns diachronic steel through funnel coral. So Marines barge in and settle. The end of the choice proves two stars are covenant and listen to the growing music apart.
Pleasure is the widow, circulating. She walks and her dress unfolds like a stream folds in clear seams. The willow streams down the bank. Where she walks the stream flashes windows, a creed of windows. She weeps through river, the metal of the answer. Pleasure is the widow. So some pleasure is misspent. So the burnished river pulls in a bed of wind. Because she has not gained in the question
In the line of trees part of a mirror grows through a harder forest. Pallor is storm, a middle of rain sours its skin. We hear marble water dressing; we remember where the garden planned. The rain faces readiness, glass, grayer in shirred country as color comes afterlife with need scrawled in it natural and artificial fire. Red trees hang night north and south.
Weber: 'if at the beginning of a shower a number of people on the street put up their umbrellas at the same time, this would not ordinarily be a case of action mutually oriented to that of each other, but rather of all reacting in the same way to the like need of protection' a meeting mark although in almost soviet circumstance this is also what patronage endures-the humbling, integer of will. The sensory pragmatism, a loss of risk in peripatetic orchard. What works has a deeper appreciation for what does not.
Consciousness combs with the sterile shalelike concentric accumulation of remainder. A light in already clear waters, as advancement a median of the ever ready tears in nine light unanswered change, and brings dissolution. The cemetery wheel of citizenship, a theory of chance will not change.
SCHOOLYARD WITH BOAT
"The child plays at being not only a shopkeeper or teacher but also a windmill and a train." -Walter Benjamin, "On the Mimetic Faculty"
Our horizon thickened, dropped lower like grain. There was no grain. And it was dawn again.
Waves darted out of the snow, turned to wind. The snow waved as out a flawed window.
The wind made odd furrows through the field. There was no time between lines.
Dawn and not, reflected presently. Culled, the snow overturned and was now.
What when not, repeated the wind. Children pulled in a blind row against it.
The resilience of children grows with the instability of progress.
When bright snow sheared and dulled I believe no matter. No note guards the gate.
* * *
Negation in retrospect, although not prospectively culls in 'scape' the grating of canvas or progress.
Not words alone pleased me, said the flag lines will not meet. The white cord chimes on the pole.
Not words alone the flag hangs, knowing held back, as uncertainty means negation
struck down, the corrective open to learning is sustainable in ignorance.
A gull a prospective self billeting in the wind is resistance, in a mind
knowing resistance and measuring in it progress, self-iterative spanning. The gull sweeps
belief. But what learns? Not what is to be learned. What learns- when snow folds on threshing snow
when the lesson is valuable gain will not cull in loss, snow is a thorn of it.
The snow on brick chalks and thins. Red lines and white are drawn together.
Children brace by succeeding each other in the wind, eyes shut to glare.
The gull sweeps and its shadow into snow furls-a steel share
as snow is in breathing motion like a bird shaking snow from crest.
Miseducation risks correction within its own frame. A crop
is a decision of field. Harbinger of space, white winter, work with me while I live. When I do not, do not work.
ANNA BOOK OF A
Aesclapius sometimes became a snake. What medicine practices, inverts
as instrument. His fingers combine, throat widens into a mouth. He is a swallowing (his wand untwines, loosens, presses into a human face).
Colored in black bands unguent - undulating
the sudden thickness of the snake elides in a feeling ray of misprision. Its stricture met whole as uncertain
laudable green sense, sharing its tidal suspicion. Where the animal meets it kills as it tried.
A third develops from thicker stem: he pries up and chokes where neck hide softens to flesh. A lathered bone
walls (the advent) press the visible. Roaming with walls waist high, the animal peers down.
He believes he becomes what he sees. He is in the undivided clinical scales, the carriage of hanging. Nothing else is inside its walls.
Like the word Minotaur, medical language means just what it is hemolysis (wand a scaling
identification - passion with denunciatory wholeness, a mask grove moves in lineament paler than the satisfying
a sickness of citizenship with care). ACS took x's children when she did not leave her batterer.
By a shelter water rats and pheasants swam up from the East River. You have a name.
Two animals on a radiating tree race in long peeling hyacinth-like bulbs;
lightning shears as minuteness, evergreen, ever-brown abbreviation, killing in thickness what the mind sets.
It builds under high wishing cranes. Eye and hooked fur streak, shaking the branch
in dialogue between jackal-headed baits. Three bones move from jaw to middle ear. Lightning snaps behind.
It turns thin soil into tunnels. Sparrow hands will not sail. Splints
enclose a brick smokestack with radio antennae on top warehouse emptiness of movie lots.
A lobster wholesaler on the channel gushes floorboards.
Their race is not social pollution, white sheets across the horizon. It is difference, who speaks, and chance, who listens.
65 million years is each death in the middle passage. It turns a trench in the harbor
repentant in planning a habitless credit:
it is yucca. Stubbed white flowers narrow as they widen, listening surviving its mate.
Thin aloe hears each possible, human, sunless circle, an egg in the blue,
withering what endures and what survives. The narrowing is not hope; everything possible is human.
In the alley a rat tried to assemble a pig. Weeds licked the rat. In healing bolts, the rat licked the pig. Fireflies drew lines over grass, in a revision. The rat said, I would feel freer on the whole with a larger pig. Needles rest in a bitter smell of decomposed leaves, patterned in rain.
News - the medical miracle has a tail between the eyes. Look then to life; it has no part in races that consume. When the rat came with a sickle and mowed the constellation of the great commoner the pig cornflowers grew blue stars, and ability threaded automaticity and clearing skies.
Unvisaged ability is a winter garden. Mooring wastes what may simply save it. The garden attracts terror to terror cultural metaphrasis organic abrasiveness. The well in precision is hastened by design sand in soil driving hastening the medicinal horror. It seals the indefinite forever in blood certainty. The mood moon appeals a middle clarity of unconditional knots. War will never bring rebirth, but snow settles counsel as trust.
Nebulaic violence, settlement and red sinew takes the inverted claims to heart. Intention relived as consciousness coincident with melted trust solders in fingers - opposed or even the gull flare. Warlike memory, a fire knob occasions what may be declined first in ritual as evades promptness. What is unclear will mean nothing more than solitude. Attention, constellation less precise whose instrument is the only in a level sea navigation continues even as eyes.
The conscious vine stained cuneiform resin as a sun-like order decays and ferments. Wide rows of mouth, grapes in milk and dust wild patterns - a continous vine, future impermeable reactive slugs in fixed array. I was drunk without knowing it, and seen. By elms sat the avoided few. Fringed pods saw me. A rupture in path is a vine blindness whose organic alleviation still grew friendship with contradictory descriptive reserve. The hill pooled in a concave grove. I was dismissed in familiar terms, persuasion, panned-down in unfamiliar terms.
* * *
There was clustered building, soil boring, caissons to bedrock. One - a hole in use cavern two a hole in usefulness. Girders were guided to girders which is anxiety and the serious radar chain of commitment. A river went across its site. If unconscious time mattered, an ensign of completion, the assigned promised a shark-finned, earnest, seating plan of the god. Under the river (that middle generation) grew plastic charitable gain in coarse mixture hops, grist, sea-wing atmospheric star joists, stretcher, header, soldier, shiner used, unused in rivering hand - a zero mark, water that is not level.
* * *
Comedy, a sugar tree warm as shame is to identity grows cold, exculpatory grandiose. Seriousness - and not guilt - grants privacy. Men and women go back to work. The watchers stay in their vine. There is no middle way. Here is the fist of sun, and of rain.
Chapter Two FOUR STONES
I learned I must change. The rain clicked around morning, a breadlike mantle, becoming unexplained, unimplored wedded, stamina of light. Was lightning worth shelter?
Wind pointed all leaves one way. Wet leaves a darker green, green water pearled. If strain between did not yield the Atlantic, I still listened to choice. Thunder went down the mountain, I counted no other freedom
time's interregnum, mountain and sea. There was a series of lives- the converse readying of time fury the almost notched strangulation but who knows when it was dead black tide
is yes social but has a current through it, windless storm. Tapers of bells down mesh rays, the little year baked spring changing green for rigor. I read while waiting. French peasants, from S. of the Loire, came to Port Royal in 1606. Many were engagés, bound
to trappers for five years, a pause between what was logical and natural. They stopped every week work before rest, a calculating abundance, passion without hope,
pebbles shrouded in clear water, evolutionary, transpiring; Acadians diked and drained sea marshes. Coastal routes directed civil warfare between d'Aulnay and de la Tour's companies. Hornblend in rock, refusing to convert Micmacs, expelling Jesuits to Isle Mont-Desert
both settlements burned by a single ship from Jamestown, anticlerical, their science without figures dissolved. Internal suits rose as conflict with the British,
their contentiousness halted colonial courts, then a misunderstood oath, the cormorant's eye a glass gem. Split red, soldiers asked to meet Acadian men then jailed them, their families separated, fed shoes and spoilage the 1755
winter. Survivors had children sold by judges for loitering, without connection crowning sediment, means and ends breathing, Beausoleil promised to slit every throat of new settlers
-this the story of 12,000, fewer than a single Bosnian town- a mild abbreviation, their moving ballast, and no more war. When relocated to rural Pennsylvania they saw themselves prisoners of war and did not work.
Maryland's governor arrested 'papists who incited slave revolt,' proving them to live elsewhere; in France died in smallpox quarantine at St. Malo on the sea. Change is wrought in links, when chains cover their forge.
There was another way, not good enough for me -the capacity to criticize self as a substance- public love; yet I couldn't move backward. Two boats, then Beausoleil's, stopped in N. Orleans on route to Quebec
praising him who quiets the faceless who look foreward. Their movement restricted by the Spanish governor until 1769, unreceived, unequivalent, eventually racist, with their boot toe pointed, nothing unspeakable in their wake.
Parent, I was held of another grace. White sails uncovered me; I was kept on shore as their authority held in pointed, brackish time. It reminded me when I was enough. It traveled
change, and there might be no abeyance, a separate past. It meant clarity. I guarded what I didn't know, constant water, so its need grows. It marked where the grave was, and knew if Mladic was dying.
On its cover I sketched a column with a pale maze of trees on top, branches crossing. The column became a real tree, greening to a striped maple as the eye went up, but never in my defense. I was here;
what could the burning grass do? So I chose the light, kind fire, killing the accident; the morning, its gradation of judgment; the antagonistic, athletic, vehicular mind, spindled like the dawn and morning rotate.
Excerpted from Planned Solstice by DAVID MICAH GREENBERG Copyright © 2003 by David Micah Greenberg. Excerpted by permission.
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