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Joshua Poteat


Nocturne: For the Doves

On the side of a desert road
a headless dove,
its body a basket of ants,
basket of creosote stems.

To live at all is to grieve
and from what life
did we gain this trust,
awake each dawn

to find the bright air
full again,
rustle and coo
in the widening palms?

Nocturne: For the River

I can't bear to be forgotten by any more people,
and walking home under these anonymous street lamps

it would be easy to slip under the cobblestones
and sleep away the nights, comfortable and alone.

Even the street lamps have forgotten me,
forgotten how to give their light,

the sickly powder orange of a child's mouth
full of aspirin is all they can muster now. It's sad,

yes, but it's also a little too...participatory.
There's no avoiding them, no resemblance

to the living, to the morning light they mimic.
There's a Buddhist proverb:

Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world,
and I've tried, believe me, smiling the pink smile

of a lamb, a quarter in a blind girl's cup,
but does it mean to breathe in this airy version

of asbestos or to keep walking these streets,
smashing each light to reclaim some small, hidden

memento from a time when there was hope?
Tonight, a south wind brings me the scent

of the tobacco plant across the river,
and the bread factory a few blocks away

has given up its loaves to the air,
which redeems us in a way, I think,

for redemption is nothing more
than a breaded wind pulling a night from frailty.

Tell me, Robert E. Lee, of the hundred-year sleep,
of mice skulls in owl dung, your bronze head

bearing the weight of catacombs hidden
in the itch of amputees, gas-lit, forlorn.

Tell me, J.E.B. Stuart, that everything will be o.k.,
that your horse is facing north because

she misses the snowy fields.
Tell me, sad horse, with doves nesting

under your raised hoof, in this century of longing,
how can I go on loving this ruined excuse for a city,

sleepy-sweet night, sweet cicada,
sweet oak, sweet old nothing?

Sad-eyed Matthew Brady, come down to me
from your glass-plated heaven of iodine,

from your tent-city of wagons in a muddy field
where my apartment building now stands,

years of smoke rising between us,
and watch the reflection of crows

roost far below the water in the tulip trees
as Whitman did once after the war,

from a skiff in the shallows of the James,
pale gold, the play of light

coming and going, bats and thrushes
alive with stars, woven over the musical trees

and over the past, over the milky blossoms
of wild carrot, or, oblivion.

And so, like the river in the distance
humming the trestle-song of night trains,

its skin seeming to hold twilight, delay it,
I stand among these street lamps

a forgotten man, and let the South's last summer
rise up and consume me.

Nocturne: For the Aviaries

Then the rain came,
full of a sadness I've never seen before,
through the cottonwoods
and along the river,
which is no longer a river
but an apparition under the sand.

Had I five hummingbirds,
I would make a love charm
and string them from the clap
of a small copper bell in those branches,
necks hovered together, broken.

Had I a swan, it would sleep
under the hives
with a bucket of fresh milk,
with the splintered white faces of goats.

To reclaim or take apart the night,
like the city does, carving through
the blind river?
The brilliant debris of stars, the air?

Nothing in this world is ours.

                                      -from Ornithologies



Kim Addonizio 03-14-08


Agha Shahid Ali 09-14-07


Alice Anderson 11-16-08


Renee Ashley 04-10-2010


Christianne Balk 07-27-07


Brian Barker 07-07-07


Polina Barskova 09-13-2010


Bruce Beasley 11-22-08


Nicky Beer 09-06-2010


Nicky Beer 08-22-08


Nathaniel Bellows 04-27-09


Ciaran Berry 01-25-09


Linda Bierds 08-31-07


Kristin Bock 08-17-09


Bruce Bond 02-18-2012


John Bradley 03-12-2012


Brian Brodeur 03-29-09


Michelle Boisseau 09-20-2010 


Sophie Cabot Black 03-26-2012


Anne Caston 09-24-09


Anne Caston 02-27-2011


Elizabeth Biller Chapman 01-25-08


Nicole Cooley 04-05-09


Stephen Cramer 02-14-2011


Nicole Cuddeback 03-07-08


Steve Davenport 03-29-2010


Cortney Davis 05-03-09


Todd Davis 11-01-2010


James Dickey 03-12-2012


Stephen Dobyns 02-26-2012


Elizabeth Dodd 09-05-08


Karen Donovan 04-15-07


Mark Doty 04-11-08


Stephen Dunn 11-09-02010


Lynn Emanuel 08-30-2010


Lynnell Edwards 11-22-2010


B. H. Fairchild  09-04-09


Elyse Fenton 04-25-2011


Nick Flynn 01-28-2012


Nick Flynn 10-04-2010


Rachel Contreni Flynn 04-10-2011


Carolyn Forche 09-21-07


Carrie Fountain 03-21-2011


James Galvin 02-23-07


Margaret Gibson 01-24-10


Mary Jo Firth Gillett 02-22-08


Dana Gioia 08-23-2010


Eugene Gloria 09-20-08


Louise Gluck 03-17-2010


Kevin Goodan 08-29-08


Matthew Graham 11-28-2010


Robert Grunst 11-16-07


Bruce Guernsey 9-13-2011


Elizabeth Hadaway 06-15-07


John Haines 11-01-2011


Donald Hall 02-10-07


Sarah Hannah 11-25-2011


C. G. Hanzlicek 04-23-2012


Jeff Hardin 08-10-07


Elizabeth Haukaas 09-13-2011


Brooks Haxton 03-08-10


Seamus Heaney 09-11-09


Jamey Hecht 12-05-2010


Bob Hicok 10-25-2011



Andrew Hudgins 11-21-09


Lynda Hull 05-20-07


Henry Israeli 01-23-2011


Major Jackson 05-02-2010


Mark Jarman 10-19-08


Rodney Jones 10-26-09


Barbara Jordan 02-02-09


Ilya Kaminsky 11-18-2011


Daniel Khalastchi 8-30-2011


Brigit Pegeen Kelly 10-12-08


Jane Kenyon 04-01-07


Suji Kwock Kim 11-09-2011

 James Kimbrell 04-07-2010

James Kimbrell 01-19-07


Galway Kinnell 11-09-07


Yusef Komunyakaa 07-15-07


Phil Levine 06-03-07


Eleanor Lerman 11-02-08


Larry Levis 04-04-08


Larry Levis 02-08-2010


Lisa Lewis 02-11-2012


Sandy Longhorn 04-26-08


Corey Marks 10-03-07


Adrian Matejka 04-18-08


Davis McCombs 01-18-08


Jeffrey McDaniel 10-08-2011


Michael McGriff 02-22-09


Jay Meek 01-16-2010


Anne Michaels 01-18-09


Nils Michals 02-29-08


Keith Montesano 12-12-2010


Malena Morling 05-12-08


Simone Muench 02-08-08


Sharon Olds 02-22-07


Sharon Olds 10-19-07


Michael Ondaatje 02-01-2010


Eric Pankey 09-07-07


Gregory Pardlo 06-22-07


Ed Pavlic 09-28-07


Oliver de la Paz 02-15-2010


Lucia Perillo 12-04-09


Catherine Pierce 04-18-2011


Jon Pineda 04-09-2012


Donald Platt 02-15-08


Joshua Poteat 03-13-2011


Joshua Poteat 11-3-09


Wyatt Prunty 02-20-2011


Dean Rader 03-07-2011


Amy Randolph 03-01-09


Robert Randolph 12-12-09


Adrienne Rich 04-20-2010


Joshua Robbins 11-16-2010


David Roderick 12-07-07


Bobby C. Rogers 02-04-2012


Pattiann Rogers 3-21-08

 Steve Scafidi 10-09-09


Jim Schley 10-19-09


Tim Seibles 10-08-07


David Shumate 10-26-08


Dave Smith 04-10-09 


Katherine Soniat 01-21-2012


Katherine Soniat 11-30-07


Gary Soto 03-23-07


Mark Sullivan 08-28-09


Mathias Svalina 04-02-2012

Frank Stanford 10-25-2010

Mark Strand 02-22-2010


Mark Svenvold 03-23-09


Robert Thomas 05-03-2011


Brian Turner 05-13-07


Joshua Vinzant 01-30-2011


Tribute to Virginia Tech 04-24-07


Connie Voisine 10-1-2011


Charles Harper Webb 10-12-07


David Wevill 03-27-2011


C.K. Williams 05-25-07


Susan B.A. Somers-Willett 06-29-07


Charles Wright 01-27-07


Robert Wrigley 10-11-2010


Robert Wrigley 08-17-07


Robert Wrigley 04-09-07


Robert Wrigley 02-03-07

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