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Figurehead
Figurehead

 

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Tesserae


Selected Poetry
Selected Poetry



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So Red
from FIGUREHEAD

Blossoms in the late
October light, of such a
saturated red:

what can flower now?
only the now awakened
dark and dull maroon--

like the unburnished
metal of copper beeches
shadowing itself--

of midsummer and
spring burning the japanese
maple's dying leaves

have fired the bursting
into astonished color
of the very self

of lateness, lastness
which itself can never last
longer than the few

moments--in this case
October days--it takes to make
itself intense in,

to put forth something
of light that had either been
waiting all along

to reveal itself
or more likely, escaping
its dead body of

leaf. It hits the road
with a visual halloo
as of a bright scarf

or a letting of
arterial blood in a
high ceremony--

annual, but so
loud this year--of impatience
and acknowledgement.


Excerpted from Figurehead by John Hollander. Copyrightę 1999 by John Hollander. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this poem may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

 


 

Making Nothing Happen
from TESSERAE

"Poetry makes nothing happen" --W. H. Auden

Before there could be nothing, there were too,
Too many somethings, all abuzz: "tohu"
Scrapping with "bohu"; pain and desire, delight
And fear; a whorl of knowings; dim and bright
Suspended in a universal blanc-
Mange. She could not allow this to go on.
She said, "Let there be night" and there was night,
Intensest night, within which Nothing might
Be seen emerging from its ruined tomb;
Making itself a kind of spaceless room;
Setting its engines of denial stirring;
And then, quite irreversibly, occurring.
Nothing had, finally, happened. In future, then,
Something would never be the same again.


Excerpted from Tesserae by John Hollander. Copyrightę 1995 by John Hollander. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this poem may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.