Monday, February 1, 2010

And the winner is ...

… Robert Hill Long of Eugene, Oregon, whose manuscript wowed my stalwart readers and me with four long sonnet sequences—that’s it; no loose change in this book—that exhibit such narrative brio we often forgot we were reading sonnets. Long is the author of three previous poetry books: The Power to Die (Cleveland State University Poetry Center), The Work of the Bow (ditto), and The Effigies (Plinth Books). His new book, The Kilim Dreaming, will be out this fall. Here’s a stand-alone poem from the second section, “The Book of Joel.”

Parable of Shadows

What turns cities gray are ghosts: that’s where they answer
monotonous inquiries about the future
in monotones of ash, exhaust, and verdigris.
The residue they leave is like a sustained kiss—

on this portico that sheltered one’s live embrace;
on that marble sill where another leaned her face
into her arms and listened to the song of sirens
and taxis, and weighed the summer she held the reins

of a milk-paint horse, and no one called her in at dark.
The city ghosts touch gray is a moon-luminous ark,
they’re its true passengers. The living are ballast,
perishables with no sure date stamped as their last.

Something stilled in them wants the facades to keep graying.
What the dead do with their colors, they’re not saying.

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