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Mark Halliday

Mark Halliday

Mark Halliday has published several collections of poetry, including Little Star (1987), selected for the National Poetry Series; Tasker Street (1992), winner of the Juniper Prize; Jab (2002); and Keep This Forever (2008). Halliday has won the Rome Fellowship in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Lila Wallace/ Reader's Digest Foundation Writer's Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He has taught at Indiana University, Western Michigan University, and Ohio University.


Back and back over the meadows and through the groves
and back and beyond the broken speckle-gray boulders
there is a shady road that curves downward into a glen.
Along down the shady road of powdery dust I go.
Till the glen is near —

If I tell you that a typed copy of "Waving Adieu, Adieu, Adieu"
was taped to the kitchen wall of my humble apartment in 1988
you don't start to cry.  You just look intelligent
with a polite smile, waiting for a metaphor.

Allusion is an admission of insufficient present power.
Allusion admits a wish to borrow power from an old source.

Nick my baby blond boy crawled to the doorway
and pulled himself up by gripping the doorframe
and demanded to be part of the conversation in the kitchen.
On the wall above him was the poem by Stevens.

Back and back - till the glen is near —
while all the shady branches along the road already
have disappeared behind you . . .

Allusion is an admission that the painful recognitions of loss
have been lived through before.  It means we have old comrades
in the never-completed negotiation.

Nick was in college when I drafted this poem;  he had to study
nuances of the earnest project of representation;
now he's an artist fascinated by layers
and the aesthetics of damage.

Someone could paint a shady dusty road making you feel
how the glen with its divertimenti of thrush and wren
is leaving already even as you step down farther into its shade.
You could appreciate this painting and put on your wall
a photo of it and then twenty-plus years later
you might need to tell someone how it was there
twenty-plus years back and back.  To say "We knew, we did know,
we weren't idiots!  We knew everything was departing."

That small yellow kitchen;  Nick my golden boy
standing up all by himself.


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