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Four Poems by Joseph Stroud

Homage to Rolf Jacobsen

The yellow jacket keeps crashing against the pane

trying to get out. All along it’s only a matter

of opening the window, finding the words,

and you’re out there — in the other, larger world.

To the dead, paradise is the sidewalk you stroll down

looking in windows, humming, stopping for coffee.

The Song of Divorce

Bitter the warmth of sunlight, and bitter the taste of apple,

the song and the stars and wheat fields, bitter the memory,

moonlight, the shine of the lake’s surface in morning

like a sheen of pearl, bitter the hummingbird’s throat

and gold pollen, all poems and their music, harp wood

and sandalwood, bitter, silk sheets, fire, the marriage.

Reading Cavafy Alone in Bed

I, too, remember the past, my room lit by candles,

and the night she entered and touched my face

with her face, with mouth and tongue and lips,

in the orchard night, in the odor of fruit,

her breasts — remember, body? — that room,

remember? — our cries, the flickering candles?

Lazarus in Varanasi

From a pyre on the burning ghat

a corpse slowly sits up in the flames.

As if remembering something important.

As if to look around one more time.

As if he has something at last to say.

As if there might be a way out of this.

Joseph Stroud, born in 1943, is a California poet who spends half the year in Santa Cruz and the other half in a cabin in the Sierra Nevada. He is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and a Witter Bynner Fellowship in poetry from the Library of Congress. These poems are from Of This World: New and Selected Poems, published by Copper Canyon Press in 2009 and reprinted with permission.

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Homage to Rolf Jacobsen

The yellow jacket keeps crashing against the pane

trying to get out. All along it’s only a matter

of opening the window, finding the words,

and you’re out there — in the other, larger world.

To the dead, paradise is the sidewalk you stroll down

looking in windows, humming, stopping for coffee.

The Song of Divorce

Bitter the warmth of sunlight, and bitter the taste of apple,

the song and the stars and wheat fields, bitter the memory,

moonlight, the shine of the lake’s surface in morning

like a sheen of pearl, bitter the hummingbird’s throat

and gold pollen, all poems and their music, harp wood

and sandalwood, bitter, silk sheets, fire, the marriage.

Reading Cavafy Alone in Bed

I, too, remember the past, my room lit by candles,

and the night she entered and touched my face

with her face, with mouth and tongue and lips,

in the orchard night, in the odor of fruit,

her breasts — remember, body? — that room,

remember? — our cries, the flickering candles?

Lazarus in Varanasi

From a pyre on the burning ghat

a corpse slowly sits up in the flames.

As if remembering something important.

As if to look around one more time.

As if he has something at last to say.

As if there might be a way out of this.

Joseph Stroud, born in 1943, is a California poet who spends half the year in Santa Cruz and the other half in a cabin in the Sierra Nevada. He is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and a Witter Bynner Fellowship in poetry from the Library of Congress. These poems are from Of This World: New and Selected Poems, published by Copper Canyon Press in 2009 and reprinted with permission.

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Comments
3

Love this poet's work.

April 4, 2010

me too Cuddles..thx Reader for continuing to put poetry here

i love the clutter of DIVORCE...strewn about words in a shambles..still trying to eek out some small bit of comfort

touching

men who write poetry r amazing..i knew one once and he turned my world on it's ear...i'm still listening for him

April 17, 2010

Yes, agree with you, nan. I've been lucky enough to know many men who write poetry. It's the way they perceive the world ...

April 17, 2010

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