Augury

Augury

by Eric Pankey

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Overview

From celebrated poet Eric Pankey, a collection exploring the presence of the divine in the seemingly ordinary.

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 known—and 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."

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781571314796
Publisher: Milkweed Editions
Publication date: 11/07/2017
Pages: 98
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Eric Pankey is the author of twelve collections of poetry, most recently Crow-Work. He is the recipient of a Walt Whitman Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and a Library of Virginia Literary Award. His work has appeared in the New Yorker, Iowa Review, Kenyon Review, Field, Gettysburg Review, and Poetry Daily, as well as numerous anthologies, including Best American Poetry 2011 (edited by Kevin Young). He is currently a professor of English and Heritage Chair in Writing at George Mason University. He lives in Fairfax, Virginia.

Read an Excerpt

AUGURY

Inside the camera obscura,

a cloud,

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 glacier—out 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.

*
• *

EPIPHENOMENON

The lizard,

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.

*
• *

ARS POETICA

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 forethought

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 moon—irresolute, 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, watches—bystander—

Accomplice? Who would believe its testimony:

Words chalk-dry, astringent, sluggishly plagiarized?

Surveilled the devil sows tares beneath a full moon.

Table of Contents

Contents

AUGURY

SPECULATION ON SUFFERING

ORACLE BONES

SPECULATION ON A STAR-NURSERY

EPIPHENOMENON

SPECULATION ON THE HISTORY OF DRAWING

ELEGY FOR CY TWOMBLY

THE FIG

LOST

DROPPED STITCHES

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

DOUBLE EXPOSURE

LOOSE LEAVES OF UNPURSUED SPECULATIONS

SPECULATION ON THE PRESENT TENSE

THIS IS THE HOUR

TWO STUDIES FOR A PARABLE

SPECULATION ON IMMANENCE

REMOTE SENSING

SPECULATION ON THE WEIGHT OF YESTERDAY

NOON OUTSIDE THE CITY WALL

ARS POETICA

SPECULATION ON THE ABSENT GOD

THE LITTLE VILLAGE

CREATION MYTH

INTELLIGENCE

AT THE END OF THE LAST GLACIAL PERIOD

HIGH PASTURE

BURNT OFFERING

VESPERS

SPECULATION ON THE VOLCANO

PINHOLE PHOTOGRAPH

ANOTHER TIME

SPECULATION ON INVISIBILITY

SPECULATION ON CAUSE AND EFFECT

THE CHANGELING

KANSAS CITY 1969

STASIS IN MOTION or THE SHOWER SCENE IN DOUGLAS GORDAN's 24 HOUR PSYCHO LASTS A HALF-HOUR

ANEMOGRAPH

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

Acknowledgments

Notes

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