Ralph Angel was born in Seattle, Washington, in 1951. He is the author of Twice Removed (Sarabande Books, 2001), Neither World, which received the 1995 James Laughlin Award, and Anxious Latitudes (1986). His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, The Antioch Review, The American Poetry Review, and many other magazines, and have been collected in numerous anthologies, including The Best American Poetry, New American Poets of the 90s, and Forgotten Language: Contemporary Poets and Nature. His most recent honors include a Pushcart Prize, and awards from the Fulbright Foundation and Poetry magazine. Mr. Angel now lives in Los Angeles and is the Edith R. White Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Redlands, where he teaches creative writing.
In Every Direction
As if you actually died in that dream and woke up dead. Shadows of untangling vines tumble toward the ceiling. A delicate lizard sits on your shoulder, its eyes blinking in every direction. And when you lean forward and present your hands to the basin of water, and glimpse the glass face that is reflected there, it seems perfectly at home beneath the surface, about as unnatural as nature forcing everyone to face the music with so much left to do, with everything that could be done better tomorrow, to dance the slow shuffle of decay. Only one season becoming another, continents traveling the skyway, the grass breathing. And townspeople, victims, murderers, the gold-colored straw and barbed-wire hair of the world wafting over the furrows, the slashed roads to the door of your office or into the living room. The towel is warm and cool, soft to the touch, but in another dream altogether a screen door creaks open, slams shut, and across the valley a car's headlights swing up and over. And maybe you are the driver with both hands on the wheel, humming a tune nobody's ever heard before, or maybe the woman on the edge of the porch, grown quiet from fleeing, tough as nails.
From Neither World, published by Miami University Press. Copyright © 1995 by Ralph Angel. All rights reserved. Used with permission.