Signs & Wonders
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Signs is a noun (as in DO NOT DISTURB); Wonders ( as in "with furrowed brows" ), a verb.
The couplet that leads into Charles Martin's fifth collection of richly inventive poems suggests that the world is to be read into and wondered over. The signs in this new work from the prize-winning American poet of formal brilliance and darkly comic sensibility are as stark as the one on a cage at the zoo that says ENDANGERED SPECIES, as surprising as those that announce the return of irony, and as enigmatic as a single word carved on a tombstone. Renowned for his translations of Ovid's Metamorphoses and the poems of Catullus, Martin brings the perspective of history to bear on the stuff of contemporary life.
prodigious din Proclaimed the transfer was complete: All the tall trees across the street Appeared to have been settled in. This was in autumn. They had flown From the bare cornfields west of us To spend their nights in Syracuse. At first light they would be long gone. I’d have to have a mind of crow To tell you where it was they went, Although I think that their intent Was plain enough for us to know: To feed as well as they were able On gleanings from some barren field, Or test
Thief Souvenir Some Kind of Happiness The Sacred Monsters Words to Utter at Nightfall Mind in the Trees Autopsychography Support East Side, West Side 1/ Vermeer at the Frick: His Mistress and Maid 2/ John Koch at the New-York Historical Society: The Party To Himself Brooklyn in the Seventies This Organizing Solitude Theory Victorious II/ SOME ROMANS On a Roman Perfume Bottle Ara Pacis Ovid to His Book Three Sonnets from the Romanesco of G.G. Belli 1/ The Good Soldiers 2/ The
will be praised! When I was fortunate, I hungered for stardom, celebrity, and much, much more; it now suffices that I do not hate the poems that have brought me to this state, the cleverness I suffer for---and from! So go in my place now and visit Rome as I would do, and walk about, and look upon its wonders---would I were my book! Don’t think, because you come here from abroad, you’ll pass among the populace ignored! I fear my notoriety may hurt you; if any guardian of female virtue
return to sleep Of knees and elbows crouching for the leap. Foreboding (After Alfred Kubin, Die Ahnung, 1906) What dark form has awoken over the sleeping village in the early morning chill? It will have no rest until below lie only broken bodies among the pillage. After 9/11 We lived in an apartment on the ridge Running along Manhattan’s northwest side, On a street between the Cloisters and the Bridge, On a hill George Washington once fortified To keep his fledglings from
wisdom to dispel The unbroken gloom I foretell, Nor any wish to toll the knell Of parting day. (I pinched that last bit---could you tell? From Thomas Gray.) Nor would I wish the world to be Left to the darkness or to me. But how successful, then, could we Possibly be at The task of reversing entropy By decree or fiat? Might there not be some good reason To cut short the losing season, And, if not with a dose of poison, Find life’s antidote In blade, revolver or the noose