Mar 092014
 

author photo color

Your Moon Cover

Ralph Angel is a brilliant poet, master of the laconic veering toward silence. Like his beloved Pierre Reverdy, he writes lines that turn your mind inside out, something always yielding to its opposite, presence and absence intertwine.

I painted the walls and the ceiling an even white.
Then I knocked out a wall.

The words emerge from the white space of the page, hesitant, whispered into the silence, uncertain of return. Melancholy, mysterious, precise.

These are poems from Angel’s new book, Your Moon, just launched from Western Michigan University’s amazing press New Issues Poetry & Prose.

dg

Ralph_Angel

Panic

In one breath of air
I swam to the bottom of the ocean and brought back the earth.

I painted the walls and the ceiling an even white.
Then I knocked out a wall.

On the lake a swan folds herself into her wings
forever.  It was that

time of year.  The snakes are making rain.

 

Being Back

Sooner or later I am out folding chairs again, and so
leave myself behind, though flirting
with an angel a few stairs
above me
feels just as real
and keeps things moving.

A golden retriever licks my hand.  It’s Christmas
in Chicago.  The family’s here
and from the cemetery
there’s talk of food
and family.

It’s flat
and cold in Dallas.  And then a bursting
cloud of grackles.

An old man pees himself.  His wife
takes her seat and thanks me.  In Louisville,
Kentucky, a baby’s
handed me.

In Seattle (must I go there, too?), I’m here
for you, and I know

I won’t be back.

 

The Traffic Is Going Down the Hills

The traffic is going down the hills
above the city to the harbor

and back again, past the statue
of a goddess poised

in her abandon.  Her arms
hang to the side

without touching her body.

At her feet a beautiful young girl
holds a plastic bag

in her hand, ready to pick up
her pet’s

droppings.

Little sister, arranging
bottle caps.  Little brother, back

and forth you run
from one side of the pier

to the other.

Oh young mother
pulling your thin dress

to yourself
tighter

and tighter.

 —Ralph Angel

 

Ralph Angel’s latest collection, Your Moon, was awarded the 2013 Green Rose Poetry Prize. Exceptions and Melancholies: Poems 1986-2006 received the 2007 PEN USA Poetry Award, and his Neither World won the James Laughlin Award of The Academy of American Poets. In addition to five books of poetry, he also has published an award-winning translation of the Federico García Lorca collection, Poema del cante jondo / Poem of the Deep Song. Angel is the recipient of numerous honors, including a gift from the Elgin Cox Trust, a Pushcart Prize, a Gertrude Stein Award, the Willis Barnstone Poetry Translation Prize, a Fulbright Foundation fellowship and the Bess Hokin Award of the Modern Poetry Association. He lives in Los Angeles, and is Edith R. White Distinguished Professor at the University of Redlands, and a member of the MFA in Writing faculty at Vermont College of Fine Arts. His personal website is here.

 

  One Response to “Traffic & Panic: Poems — Ralph Angel”

  1. Love.

Leave a Reply