Download PDF Here 13th Anniversary
Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume Three December 2022.
Seasonal Change, poems by Bob Herz.
I wonder about seasons. I mean, not in relation to each other,
The way you’d think about animals in relation
To the cart they pull, and how they change
Every so often, etc., but rather
As the driver come to town, a few friends
Slapping him on the back as he buys a first round,
The lady he calls on, who resists him or maybe doesn’t,
Or doesn’t in imagination, so that maybe the real question here
Is not about affection, or sequence, but timing.
Think of this as its image perhaps: as snowfall on mud,
As greenery washed out in the flood.
I know there are people whom stasis troubles
When we talk like this, edging their lives carefully
Between water and land, the air colder at each step,
Their breath blue, as at the first snow,
And the air granular aground them, like something seen
After a long time, or like an illness that lingers
(One imagines the particulate emotions, the archaisms:
The lines, the trudging, back and forth as if
To a labor camp, the long coughs); and now back to the driver,
He’s not that big a man, that surprised me,
Not tall, that is, but he is very broad, like a large wood chip.
Here’s an image of him: fur-lined cap, boots, gloves,
Who watches these people sadly, for whom
He must always be a temptation to troubling feeling,
The way the far hills trouble the present landscape.
There are lights behind me, where my house is,
And on the meadows in summer
You can sometimes hear it, the thump-thump sound
Over the sound of bees, like a large human heart:
An ax. Someone cutting trees. Down through the meadow,
When I run there, I bring my hand forward, chopping air,
And so I could, when I say “time of year,”
As easily mean individual moments, not seasons.
It’s like this in memory too, when we pass from
Desire as sequence to a kind of nocturne,
Individual moments that make memory
A movement as on a train passing through…
Here are the tracks measuring each interval’s momentum—
Here is the sand rushing out of the hourglass,
That old crab walking sideways!
And here’s a seasonal change: beyond the hills, more hills.
When I was a boy, there were hills then water,
And down by the water
You could look back and see the hills as mountains,
As something loved by color in the early morning
And in the evening, with that blue that covered everything.
For a time, I argued to have my room
Painted blue, like that. But they kept the wallpaper,
Which showed people, and landscape;
I always thought of them as Ukrainian immigrants,
What with the musical instruments and sad Catholic smiles.
After a time the smiles got me: What did they know that I didn’t?
Now I walk back and forth in a blue room, thinking about freedom,
About what we have and what we’ve lost,
Already feeling like half an immigrant myself,
Ready to flee from freedom to freedom and then—
God help me—to come back again.
A man is speaking to a crowd of people. They are so quiet
You can hear the sound of waves
Breaking on the shore beyond the near hills.
Someone or something has died, someone or something
That will always be with them is gone forever.
They are standing in the snow, wearing
Blue parkas and red woollen mittens,
And something is beating against them,
Tearing apart the shorelines of their hearts. They continue
To stand there through moonglow. The man continues to speak.
Inside my house, which is blue now, blue in this
Light of strangers, a woman touches a man
Who has fallen asleep. He asks what time it is,
And she answers him with the heart’s sure story,
At intervals, till morning.
Partial Essay On Weather
Here’s the problem, morning’s
Quickness, sky’s hardness, clouds
Distant and like the paintings
Of clouds, all generalities;
And further down the street, stamping
Its foot impatiently: a horse.
Ah colleagues, students
Of laudanum and weather, white
Losses drifting down, signifying
The vast incompleteness of things,
What covers us covers also
This horse: What the sky means
Is this falling into history.
O horse, horse: bleak conditional,
I despise the man who owns
That horse, if he is a Christian;
And doubly, if he is not. For to write,
To live, is to wish for better
Weather, and shelter for horses.
To write, to live, is to think
Constantly of horses, of
The thud of hoof, and tendon’s
Intricate motion, arranging it, which comes
Like a judgment: This is human, this not …
But what, besides the general statement,
Merits our love? Even as we sit
Arguing this point
There’s been an explosion—at the bank!
Now there is only the sound
Of the horse’s hoof, and of
Bodies falling into snow, from history.
Ah horse, horse, horse of God,
Horse of Love, horse
Of mad escapes into History: The snow deepens,
As all night we wait for
That fleeing outlaw, the eschaton.
© Bob Herz
Bob Herz is editor/publisher of Nine Nile Magazine and Nine Mile books, with colleague-poets Stephen Kuusisto and Andrea Scarpino. He is a graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop and has published three books of his own poetry and three books of translations (Jules LaForgue, Georg Trakl, an anthology of various poets). He lives and works in LaFayette, NY.