November 1999

Alfred Corn

Alfred Corn Alfred Corn has published seven books of poems, and a new volume, Stake: Selected Poems, 1972-1992,  is scheduled with Counterpoint for October, 1999.

A Window on the Strait    Click to hear in real audio
of San Juan De Fuca   

for Sam Hamill

You should be here now, Sam, watching your poems—
the way they dart, swoop, swerve and glide; or startle
up in flexible constellations; perch
in tandem on humming power lines; or work
in teams to comb the grass for grubs or seeds.

Last night's cold front countersigned the dark,
unwinding one of your strongest as it sheared
miles-long bolts of silk against the eaves,
some tattered scroll with an account, in ink-brush,
of a long trek through cloudflown mountain peaks and forests;
and then, at dusk, skies clear and windless, the eased,
upward-looming arc of Kannon* at the full.

This noon, short lyrics flank the paths,
dapper, as the air stirs them,
in azure, rosť, egg-yolk, damson, white—
radial symmetry or simple furls,
a simplicity not at all ruffled
by Latin names lent them by Linnaeus.

Your summation, Sam? It rests in broad marine expanses
framed by the headland spruces' spiky silhouette,
an elemental blue that paler sea-lanes river
in concurrence with surveying rafts of cloud.
Wave after wave keeps reconfiguring the grain,
waters invariant by virtue of constant flux—
all the more at daybreak when a further
laminate of diamond breaks the surface of
the page's rising tide, light infinitely not there:
and hence perpetual from now forward.


*Japanese goddess of heaven, associated with the moon.



Alfred Corn: Poetry
Copyright © 1999 The Cortland Review Issue NineThe Cortland Review