The ancient Romans practiced augury, reading omens in bird's flight patterns. In the poems of Augury, revelation is found in nature's smallest details: a lizard's quick movements, a tree scarred by lighting, the white curve of a snail's shell. Here the sensory world and the imagined one collide in unexpected and wonderful ways, as Pankey scrutinizes the physical for meaning, and that meaning for truth.
With uncommon grace, each of Pankey's precise lyrics advances our shared ontological questions and expresses our deepest contradictions. In a world of mystery, should we focus on finding meaning or creating it? How can the knownand the unknown be captured in language?
Augury is a masterful and magical collection from a poet of stirring intelligence, "a book of stones unstitched from the wolf's belly."
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Inside the camera obscura,
Or the image of a cloud, grows darker.
The past warps, curls back round to touch the present.
Is it the spit and clay on the blind man's eyes
Or the little spell of words that returns sight?
Look, they said.
So I looked. But I saw nothing.
A book of moths. A book of sand.
A book of stones unstitched from the wolf's belly.
Shot through with light,
a book of blank pages.
The solution embodies yet keeps hidden
All dissolved within it,
keeps the hermetic
Hemmed in, the secret secret a bit longer.
The Geiger counter's tick-tick like a old clock's.
Foreign voices on the shortwave, static
Like a mother's shush,
like crushed salt through a sieve.
The past waits unmoved:
a rusted wrecking ball
In a vacant lot: a scoured erratic
Set down by a glacierout of place, useless.
A book of nuance that resists closure.
Book of Desire.
Book of the Vertigo of Desire.
Book in which the whole is latent in the partial.
Rooks roost in the quarry cliffs; goldfinches
Flit and dart. Water long concealed in shadowed cisterns
Takes on a ferrous edge.
Look, they said.
born it seems of fissures,
Skims and quivers up the rock-wall,
Insinuates itself between chipped mortar
And a holdfast of lemon thyme
And is gone, resorbed again into stone.
Another nameless spectacle,
the man thinks,
As he opens the door and a new day enters with him.
He moves from room to room,
Pulls the black crepe from the mirrors,
Finds himself reflected there in each.
The first people watch the drama of their fireside shadows and, even before the camp-following wolves lose their voices, the ritual sharing and eating of food replaces sacrifice
A scrutiny before words
How easily words un-name
Slip like skin from a blanched peach
A yoke, a hand-carved wooden device, joined together a pair of draft animals, especially oxen. It consisted of a crosspiece with two bow-shaped pieces, each enclosing the head of an animal. The yoke is a tool to harness and focus energy, to allow the two draft animals to work efficiently together toward a singular end, often plowing or hauling heavy loads. Jesus, the son of a carpenter, who said For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light, would have known that the more perfectly fitted the yoke was to the particular oxen the more easily the animals could take advantage of the tool rather than struggle against it. The purpose of a well-made tool is that it eases and lightens work
Sand is heated to glass and lenses are ground,
Thus distance is bridged, or the otherwise invisible magnified
It goes, we say, without saying. Nonetheless we say it
TWO STUDIES FOR A PARABLE
The mutable moonirresolute, inconstant
Is full: a source text of vacancy, a smudged page,
A poison ether that shimmers into matter.
Beneath it, the devil sows tares to choke the grain.
The moon, a scrupulous eye, watchesbystander
Accomplice? Who would believe its testimony:
Words chalk-dry, astringent, sluggishly plagiarized?
Surveilled the devil sows tares beneath a full moon.
Table of ContentsContents
SPECULATION ON SUFFERING
SPECULATION ON A STAR-NURSERY
SPECULATION ON THE HISTORY OF DRAWING
ELEGY FOR CY TWOMBLY
GHOST SHIP or UNION OF THE TORUS AND THE SPHERE
AT SENANQUE ABBEY
SPECULATION ON THE DARK AGES
SYNOPSIS OF A BATTLE
SPECULATION ON MELANCHOLIA
PROOFS AND REFUTATIONS
THE FRAGILE INSTANT THE NIGHT LIGHTS UP
READING MONTALE IN PROVENCE
SPECULATION ON THE LITTLE ICE AGE
LOOSE LEAVES OF UNPURSUED SPECULATIONS
SPECULATION ON THE PRESENT TENSE
THIS IS THE HOUR
TWO STUDIES FOR A PARABLE
SPECULATION ON IMMANENCE
SPECULATION ON THE WEIGHT OF YESTERDAY
NOON OUTSIDE THE CITY WALL
SPECULATION ON THE ABSENT GOD
THE LITTLE VILLAGE
AT THE END OF THE LAST GLACIAL PERIOD
SPECULATION ON THE VOLCANO
SPECULATION ON INVISIBILITY
SPECULATION ON CAUSE AND EFFECT
KANSAS CITY 1969
STASIS IN MOTION or THE SHOWER SCENE IN DOUGLAS GORDAN's 24 HOUR PSYCHO LASTS A HALF-HOUR
ST. LOUIS ELEGY
THE FRICTION BETWEEN A STRING AND BOW CALLS FORTH A PLAINTIVE HYMN
STUDY FOR "THE BATTLE OF THE REBEL ANGELS"
SPECULATION ON THE AFTERLIFE
ANOTHER SPECULATION ON THE AFTERLIFE
SOUVENIR DE VOYAGE