Archeology of the Circle: New and Selected Poems

Archeology of the Circle: New and Selected Poems

by Bruce Weigl

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Archeology of the Circle: New and Selected Poems by Bruce Weigl

With Song of Napalm, Bruce Weigl established himself as a poet of incomparable power and lyric fury whose work stands as an elegy to the countless lives dramatically altered by war. Archeology of the Circle brings together the major work of one of America's greatest poets. Collected here for the first time, from eight volumes of poetry and spanning two decades, the poems in Archeology of the Circle also include Bruce Weigl's most recent work, which takes a dramatic turn toward a hard-bitten and sensuous lyric. Out of the horror of individual experience, Bruce Weigl has fashioned poetry that offers solace to disillusionment and bears transcendent resonance for all of us. Archeology of the Circle illustrates Bruce Weigl's remarkable creative achievements and signifies his own personal and spiritual salvation through his writing.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802136077
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date: 03/28/1999
Edition description: 1 ED
Pages: 222
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x (d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


There's a man standing
in a coop,
his face is wet,
he says he's too old:
"You can't give them away
they just come back."
I follow him to the cellar.
Latin blessings on the wall,
sauerkraut in barrels,
he puts his arm around my waist
begins to make a noise,
pigeons bleeding.
We're both crying now
he moves his tongue around
pulls feathers from his coat.
A fantail he says,
the kind that hop around,
don't fly well.



In Vietnam I was always afraid of mines:
North Vietnamese mines, Vietcong mines,
American mines,
whole fields marked with warning signs.

A bouncing betty comes up waist high—
cuts you in half.
One man's legs were laid
alongside him in the Dustoff:
he asked for a chairback, morphine.
He screamed he wanted to give
his eyes away, his kidneys,
his heart ...





I am you are he she it is
they are you are we are.
I am you are he she it is
they are you are we are.
When they ask for your number
pretend to be breathing.
Forget the stinking jungle,
force your fingers between the lines.
Learn to get out of the dew.
The snakes are thirsty.
Bladders, water, boil it, drink it.
Get out of yourclothes:
You can't move in your green clothes.
Your O.D. in color issue clothes.
Get out the damp between your legs.
Get out the plates and those who ate.
Those who spent the night.
Those small Vietnamese soldiers.
They love to hold your hand.
A fine man is good to hard.

Back away from their dark cheeks.
Small Vietnamese soldiers.
They love to love you.
I have no idea how it happened,
I remember nothing but light.


I don't remember the hard
swallow of the lover.
I don't remember the burial
of ears.
I don't remember the time
of the explosion.
This is the place curses are
manufactured: delivered like
white tablets.
The survivor is spilling his bed pan.
He slips one in your pocket,
you're finally satisfied.
I don't remember the heat
in the hands,
the heat around the neck.
Good times bad times sleep
get up work. Sleep get up
good times bad times.
Work eat sleep good bad work times.

I like a certain cartoon of wounds.
The water which refuses to dry.
I like a little unaccustomed mercy.
Pulling the trigger is all we have.
I hear a child.


I dropped to the bottom of a well.
I have a knife.
I cut someone with it.
Oh, I have the petrified eyebrows
of my Vietnam monkey.
My monkey from Vietnam.
My monkey.
Put your hand here.
It makes no sense.
I beat the monkey with a sword.
I didn't know him.
He was bloody.
He lowered his intestines
to my shoes. My shoes
spit-shined the moment
I learned to tie the bow.
I'm not on speaking terms
with anyone. In the wrong climate
a person can spoil,
the way a pair of boots
slows you down ...

I don't know when I'm sleeping.
I don't know if what I'm saying
is anything at all.
I'll lay on my monkey bones.


I'm tired of the rice falling
in slow motion like eggs from
the smallest animal.
I'm twenty-five years old,
quiet, tired of the same mistakes,
the same greed, the same past.
The same past with its bleat
and pound of the dead,
with its hand grenade tossed
into a hooch on a dull Sunday
because when a man dies like that
his eyes sparkle,
his nose fills with witless nuance
because a farmer in Bong Son
has dead cows lolling
in a field of claymores
because the vc tie hooks
to their comrades
because a spot of blood
is a number
because a woman
is lifting her dress across
the big pond ...

If we're soldiers we should smoke them
if we have them. Someone's bound
to point us in the right direction
sooner or later.

    I'm tired and I'm glad you asked.


There is a hill.
Men run top hill.
Men take hill.
Give hill to man.


Me and my monkey
and me and my monkey
my Vietnamese monkey
my little brown monkey
came with me
to Guam and Hawaii
in Ohio he saw
my people he
jumped on my daddy
he slipped into mother
he baptized my sister
he's my little brown monkey
he came here from heaven
to give me his spirit imagine
my monkey my beautiful
monkey he saved me lifted

me above the punji
sticks above the mines
above the ground burning
above the dead above
the living above the
wounded dying the wounded
dying above my own body
until I am me.


Men take hill away from smaller men.
Men take hill and give to fatter man.
Men take hill. Hill has number.
Men run up hill. Run down hill.

Table of Contents

from Executioner (1976)
Anna Grasa17
from A Sack Full of Old Quarrels (1977)
Sailing to Bien Hoa21
The Deer Hunter22
Him, on the Bicycle24
from A Romance (1979)
A Romance29
On This Spot31
The Man Who Made Me Love Him33
The Life Before Fear35
I Have Had My Time Rising and Singing38
Painting on a T'ang Dynasty Water Vessel40
The Harp42
from The Monkey Wars (1985)
Girl at the Chu LaiLaundry46
Burning Shit at An Khe47
Song for the Lost Private52
Killing Chickens54
The Last Lie57
Temple Near Quang Tri, Not on the Map58
Surrounding Blues on the Way Down60
Elegy for A62
Regret for the Mourning Doves Who Failed to Mate66
Small Song for Andrew69
The Streets70
Snowy Egret71
Song of Napalm73
from Song of Napalm (1988)
Introduction (by Robert Stone)79
The Way of Tet81
Some Thoughts on the Ambassador: Bong Son, 196783
LZ Nowhere84
On the Anniversary of Her Grace86
Apparition of the Exile88
The Soldier's Brief Epistle89
Dialectical Materialism90
The Kiss92
from What Saves Us (1992)
Her Life Runs Like a Red Silk Flag97
Why Nothing Changes for Miss Ngo Thi Thanh99
The Loop101
What Saves Us102
In the House of Immigrants104
They Name Heaven110
On the Dictatorship of the Proletariat112
The Sky in Daduza Township113
The Hand That Takes115
This Man120
In the Autumn Village121
The Confusion of Planes We Must Wander in Sleep125
The Biography of Fatty's Bar and Grille126
The Years Without Understanding128
The Black Hose130
Blues at the Equinox133
The Impossible134
The Forms of Eleventh Avenue136
from Sweet Lorain (1996)
Sitting with the Buddhist Monks, Hue, 1967141
The One143
What I Saw and Did in the Alley146
At the Confluence of Memory and Desire in Lorain, Ohio151
Three Meditations at Nguyen Du152
That Finished Feeling155
Hymn of My Republic157
Our 17th Street Years159
Conversation of Our Blood161
Three Fish164
Our Middle Years166
Elegy for Peter167
My Early Training169
Meditation at Melville Ave171
Meditation at Hue173
On the Ambiguity of Injury and Pain174
Red Squirrel175
Words Like Cold Whiskey Between Us and Pain176
Bear Meadow178
Fever Dream in Hanoi180
from New Poems 1995-1998
After the Others187
The Happy Land189
Praise Wound Dirt Skin Sky190
The Inexplicable Abandonment of Habit in Eclipse191
Elegy for Her Whose Name You Don't Know192
River Journal193
Anniversary of Myself194
Why I'm Not Afraid196
And We Came Home199
The Choosing of Mozart's Fantasie Over Suicide201
The Nothing Redemption204
The Singing and the Dancing206
Our Independence Day208
The Future210
The Happiness of Others212
Our Lies and Their Beauty213

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Archeology of the Circle: New and Selected Poems 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
AnnBKeller More than 1 year ago
Bruce Weigl, who grew up in Lorain County, Ohio, provides a graphic testament to the horrors of war. It is difficult enough to capture the nightmarish images of Vietnam on a few pages, much less compress them into verse. Every word must be chosen with care. It can be as searing as a blast of napalm or as deadly as a trip wire held in an old man’s teeth. This book of poetry captures the Vietnam era in great detail, but it also hints at the triumph of the returning soldier. Blending back into normal life was difficult for these returning GIs. For some, the struggle proved insurmountable. For others, the task took decades. Within these pages, we catch a glimpse of a man caught in this time of conflict and change. Sobering and memorable read.