The Promises of Glass

The Promises of Glass

by Michael Palmer


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The Promises of Glass, Michael Palmer's first new collection since At Passages (1995), is now available as a paperback. In seven sections this gorgeous book explores language and the "salt sea of autobiographies." His work also examines what Marjorie Perloff has described as "the absurdist 'displacement by degrees' one experiences in the post-urban wold of late twentieth-century America."

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780811214797
Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation
Publication date: 05/28/2001
Pages: 112
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.40(d)

Read an Excerpt


    The White Notebook

But we have painted over the chalky folds,
the snow- and smoke-folds, so carefully,
so deftly that many (Did you bet

on the margins, the clouds?) that many
will have gone, unnoticed,
under. Water under water,

"earth that moves beneath earth."
We have added
silver to the river, dots of silver,

red, figures-which-are-not. Tell
me what their names might have been,
what were last and first, what spells

the unfamiliar, awkwardly whispered, syllable?
And what of the blue rider, the Arab
horseman, the cavalier composed

of two shades of blue, one
from Vermeer's Delft, the other
from that metallic element called

cobalt, Kobolt, goblin? What scene
is he watching? Is it expired space
the fixed eye observes? Is it

the river which has no center, the
whiteness of the city when you say
Paris is white? Is it the arches

of the bridges now narrowed to slits?
Is it the liquid
voices themselves

he watches grow silent?
The voice of closed eyes?
Or the two

impossibly young
in the lighted room
who speak only of rain?

Scene which has no center
or whose center is empty,
elsewhere. The way white is said

rejoining an earlierwhiteness
between the done and the not-yet
rolling off the tongue

almond, almond-eyed,
eyeless, denialwhite
as the zero code, wordless,

a language of rhythm and breath.
(In erasure the chestnut
flowering toward origin

among the names for white:
blanc de titane, blanc de zinc.)
I met her there at the crossroads.

I don't remember who spoke.
Two breaths, two patterns of echo.
We have painted a bridge's eyes

narrowed, its mouth spurting sand,
dots, more dots, bright,
not visible to the eye.

River of dots rising,
stream of sand with no center.
This was both before and after.

Palette knife beside a photograph.
At recess the children's cries
through the studio windows,

station clocktower to the right,
ochre of expanding sound,
tongue to mute tongue, tendrils—

tendons—over rooftops.
Didn't it turn me—
he asks of his eye—

didn't it polish me
like one of its stones,
remingle and remake me

and draw me quickly down
to where each night in sand
the hour sounds?

We met there at the crossroads
near the small arcades.

I can't recall who first spoke,
who said, "the darkness of white."

We shared one shadow.
In the heat she tasted of salt.

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