Want it by Wednesday, October 24?
Order by 12:00 PM Eastern and choose Expedited Shipping at checkout.
Same Day shipping in Manhattan. See Details
“Bracingly candid, gracefully elegiac, tough, and passionate, Harrison travels the deep river of the spirit.” Booklist
“[Jim Harrison] is still close to the source. . . . Dead Man’s Float is, as its title would suggest, a flinty and psalmist look at mortality and wonder.” Los Angeles Times
Two months after the hardback publication of Dead Man’s Float, Jim Harrison was found dead in his home office. Harrison always thought he would die young, and when he didn’t he became increasingly preoccupied with time. As old age proved to be a harrowing trial, Harrison titled his book after a survival technique used by swimmers during an exhausting journey. This paperback edition includes the poem Harrison was writing at the time of his death, published here for the first time.
. . . Sometimes the sea roars and howls like the animal it is, a continent wide and alive.
What beauty in this the darkest music over which you can hear the lightest music of human behavior, the tender connection between men and galaxies . . .
Jim Harrison was the author of over thirty books of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. His books have been translated into two dozen languages, and in 2007 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
|Publisher:||Copper Canyon Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Where Is Jim Harrison?
He fell off the cliff of a seven-inch zafu.
He couldn’t get up because of his surgery.
He believes in the Resurrection mostly because he was never taught how not to.
Christ rose so long ago but the air he rose through hasn’t forgotten the slight red contrail from the wounds.
I think he was headed to that galaxy with six trillion stars to cool off from the Crucifixion.
I have often heard the spikes being driven through hands and feetin my mind, that is.
The sky was truly dark blue that day and earth a tiny green-and-blue ball.
I’m sitting on the lip of this black hole, a well that descends to the center of the earth.
With a big telescope aimed straight down
I see a red dot of fire and hear the beast howling.
My back is suppurating with disease,
the heart lurches left and right,
the brain sings its ditties.
Everywhere blank white movies wait to be seen.
The skylark flew within inches of the rocks before it stopped and rose again.
The cost of flight is landing.
Thunder before dawn,
thunder through dawn,
thunder beings they were called.
It had to be a person or animal up there.
Outside, walking to my work shed the clouds were low, almost black, and turbulent.
You could nearly jump up and touch them.
I love thunder. I could listen to it all day long.
Like birdsong it’s the music of the gods.
How in childhood I adored these cloud voices that could lift me up above my troubles,
far above the birds. I’d look down at their flying backs, always in circles because earth is round. What a gift to have my work shed shudder with thunder.
I pray for Mandelstam hiding covered with snow in a ditch. The Stalinists want to kill him and finally succeed. I want him to escape to Nebraska, please God. I pray for Lorca that the assassin’s guns won’t work and he’ll escape like a heron flying west to the Mediterranean then across the ocean to Michigan where he might dislike the snow but at least he’s alive.
He loved Cuba and Brazil for their music which we don’t have much of here. Please God, save him.
I even pray for Keats that he won’t die so young but get another thirty years or so to write poems in Rome. He likes sitting with my girlfriend on the Spanish
Steps. Can I trust him? Probably not but I want more of his poems so I’ll overlook his behavior. And of course Caravaggio the king of painters must live longer,
God. Why create a great painter then let him die early?
A Variation on Machado
I worry much about the suffering of Machado. I was only one when he carried his mother across the border from Spain to France in a rainstorm. She died and so did he a few days later in a rooming house along a dry canal.
To carry Mother he abandoned a satchel holding his last few years of poetry.
I’ve traveled to Collioure several times to search for Machado’s lost satchel.
The French fed him but couldn’t save him.
There’s no true path to a death
we discover the path by walking.
We turn a corner on no road and there’s a house on a green hill with a thousand colorful birds sweeping in a circle.
Are the poems in the basement of the house on the hill?
We’ll find out if we remember earth at all.
Dead Man’s Float
Dr. Guevara said that I’m hollow-eyed and exhausted from writing too much.
I should take a break but I don’t know how.
Suddenly I remembered learning the “dead man’s float” in Boy Scout swimming lessons and a light went off.
That’s what I’ll do to rest up,
the dead man’s float without water.
I got in bed and conjured the feeling of floating and recalled my last dead man’s float about a mile out in the ocean east of Key West when I tired from too much swimming ambition.
Big waves kept drowning my nose.
I gave up floating and swam desperately to shore.
I dozed in the hot sand and a pretty girl stopped and asked, “Are you okay?”
“I’ll never be okay,” I said, and she left.
I saw her later but she wouldn’t talk to this goofy. A poet blows a chance with a dumb witticism.
If you need me now
I’m here along the Mexican border dead-man floating.
Most of my life was spent building a bridge out over the sea though the sea was too wide.
I’m proud of the bridge hanging in the pure sea air. Machado came for a visit and we sat on the end of the bridge, which was his idea.
Now that I’m old the work goes slowly.
Ever nearer death, I like it out here high above the sea bundled up for the arctic storms of late fall,
the resounding crash and moan of the sea,
the hundred-foot depth of the green troughs.
Sometimes the sea roars and howls like the animal it is, a continent wide and alive.
What beauty in this the darkest music over which you can hear the lightest music of human behavior, the tender connection between men and galaxies.
So I sit on the edge, wagging my feet above the abyss. Tonight the moon will be in my lap.
This is my job, to study the universe from my bridge. I have the sky, the sea, the faint green streak of Canadian forest on the far shore.
Table of Contents
Where Is Jim Harrison? 3
Solstice Litany 8
Another Country 11
Seven in the Woods 13
Easter Again 14
The Present 15
Reverse Prayer 18
A Ballad of Love and Death about Elsa 19
Molly the Brave 20
Report from Valencia 21
Wood and War 22
Sticking to It 23
Old Man 27
A Variation on Machado 30
Wolves of Heaven 34
Lost Medicine 35
Private Diamonds 36
Lazuli Trance 37
Mountain Travel 38
God's Mouth 39
Junk Pile 40
Carpe Diem 41
Dead Man's Float 44
Barebacked Writer 45
The Girls of Winter 47
Time Again (2) 49
Riding the Wolf's Nose 52
The Green Man 54
Pain (2) 56
Man Dog 57
The Dog and Tobacco Room 58
Notes on the Sacred Art of Log Sitting 59
The Future (2) 61
Lorca Again 62
Winter Creek 63
December Butterflies 65
Pool of Light 66
Poetry Now 67
Bird Nightmares 70
He Dog 71
Tree Coroner 72
Patagonia AZ 74
Melrose (2) 75
Cattle Nap 78
Things Unseen 82
Nuthatch Girl 84
Big Issues 85
Winter, Spring 88
Tiny Bird 90
Apple Tree 91
The River 93
The Final List 96
A Dog in Heaven 97
Moon Suite 99
About the Author 107