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Geoffrey G. O'Brien

Geoffrey G. O'Brien is the author of Experience in Groups (Wave Books, 2018), People on Sunday (Wave Books, 2013), Metropole (University of California Press, 2011), Green and Gray (University of California Press, 2007), and The Guns and Flags Project (University of California Press, 2002). He teaches English at the University of California, Berkeley and San Quentin State Prison and lives in Berkeley, California.

By This Poet

8

Three Seasons

The winter, it was the winter all
the usual things happened,
I have forgotten what
would travel from the north
as a series seen from above
or from below, and the followers,
the flowers, I tore them up
the next summer, or rather
before or immediately after
and thought no more about it.
But then the summer, plans
to sign a contract, the summer
came back for what it was:
a small sprinkling of rue
and a yellow fantasy
and we were invited. It appeared
tall and swaying and deaf
to appeals, and the winter following,
this was the arrangement—
first one and then into 
another not yet there,
many years of this refrain
and all the productions within it
coming to mean more 
of an intimacy between
musical instruments and still lifes
you lose yourself in again
and probably have now,
what objects have known
in their one dark winter afternoon.
They are still visited
by everything else and together
complete the effect, a distance
which the next day took form.
That winter stopped and probably
on account of summer a spring,
spring with a sturdy fringe
and a local reputation,
it’s outside, in various rooms
and looks at everything,
a few lilacs in awkward
positions, but they were alright,
it was summer, very strong,
passing organizations,
which never finished anything
and ended in making
all this, cold coals
of wildflowers, little wars
at the centers, they go on for years 
burning near the front
and from below.

Mixed Mode

The experience of leaving
one category for another, 
of smooth being colder
than rough and of
that December I suffer
as the experience of leaving
one category for another,
using life that way
that opens and stops
moving, done,
furtively waving
as with one month
that opens and stops
among the others,
waiting and waking
in a place which seems filled
with restrained abilities
that experience that
has never seemed to me
to arrive before night
except as the need
to want to live
and want to be dead,
using a life that way,
face first, name gone,
and coming to
among a rival's things

Vague Cadence

An away of practice the other is
Like a river out of acts the other is
Hapless, unheard, with marks upon him
Having dallied in tarrying unwisely
Backlit at an undecidable remove
In a house of marks the other is
Useless deciding whether to go
Or wait in best practices like a child
A hapless river filled with sand
For years it flows like unmarked rope
Years of saying as it moves away
Are the undecided water others bring
Like the child of acts the other is
Saying to himself the other is
A hapless river practicing its flow
A house that moves to where one was
With all years off the water goes
The lights are on so the dark is out
Like the useless children others are
A certain building dream within
A part of speech without a name