Thursday night poetry
What the hell--a new meme or something. This one is from an old teacher's new book. Michael Heffernan was one of my teachers at Arkansas, and is one of the many great under-known poets around. His most recent book just came out--The Night Breeze Off the Ocean from EWU Press--and as soon as I'm done with it, I'll do a review of sorts for the site here and potentially for publication somewhere.


Not only are they closer than they appear,
the objects in the mirror are darker, lonelier,
than even the rainspots on the glass can make them seem.
Some of them are crueler, some are happier,
a great many are more comfortable, others are rockier
as they head up the road. If I were one of them,
if I were driving behind you, for instance,
and you were looking in your sideview mirror
preparing to push my 24 valves to the max
and stuff your law-abiding 4-door in my rearview mirror
and drop you out of sight, what would you make of me?
One of the forces of darkness ready to tear
oblivion in two? or a sunshine patriot taking the high way
to a bright tomorrow swallowing us both?
The physics of the thing suggests a vanishing point
at which the glass looks back toward an empty road
where the objects are either too close or too far.
Nothing is left of you and nothing is left of me.
We keep each other in each other's mirrors.
We find each other closer than we appear.

Michael's poems have always been haunting, and the ones I've read from this book are no exception. The first few are carefully crafted sonnets that don't strike you as formal right off the bat--the lines are cleverly enjambed, the rhymes aren't harsh, and the tone is a bit prosaic. For instance, here are the first 3+ lines from the first poem in the book, entitled "Jasmine."
Tragedy's where we live and what we are,
beings like us, she said, not just us two.
I noticed jasmine spilling into the air
from the next world.

It's beautiful so far, and I'm looking forward to reading more and doing a more complete review of the book. Pick it up.

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