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Richard Greenfield

Richard Greenfield is the author of three collections of poetry, Subterranean (Omnidawn Publishing, 2018), Tracer (Omnidawn Publishing, 2009), and A Carnage in the Lovetrees (University of California Press, 2003). He teaches at New Mexico State University and lives in El Paso, Texas.

By This Poet

2

Schema

In the field of traumas come the base savannas--crosshairs tighten 
on the flaring pink of the evening.

Recognize the world. After the bit of blue, after a window opened 
to air and the portioned stereo of love and grandeur, after--

mother sews a fell-off button, heats a stew, sews at the factory, 
re-stews, tires, starts (again),

father shortens a barrel, leans blast-weapons beneath windows, 
stacks ammo with scream and apocalypse.

Under cover, you are dead behind the couch when they knock.

From the first, in the glossed-over city where none reprimand 
violence, the palms executed along the auto avenues thrive--
a pitch-staggered procession in white-painted trunks.

The memoir has shown how bitter and relentless is the rind--
privacy flowers pubescent, hopeful to outlast time.

Traffic flows or stops on elevated structures in denial of the seven-
point-two,

and in the aftermath of advertising, children wander the highway in 
search of litter.

The citizens are trembling among the trembling.

Against the green strip--against the urbane and its expansion into 
the continent, the boulevard is the last boundary between the sky 
and the low-lying building,

though it is too accomplished among the rest of the wreckage.

They have their memories. The trigger is set on annihilation.

Hither Come Hither

Still turnstiles framed by a window           the red alders of Willapa Bay


                    [              Then, a red squirrel,
                                   my notation of it
                                   as if it were an upheaval
                                   in daily drifting—            ]

the limbs dangled their catkins      as I upswung to them from within

                    [              A history
                                    of a wet afterbirth
                                   and held in the arms of my mother        ovate
                                   my notation of it         formative for me—        ]

               The signal from branches        in bright green coats, loud                                                                      
                            in the vivified hollow of the swale      in a site
   of gladness (as this gaze would have had it) morning becoming
excessively noon 
                 the gladness
as I waded through it    bathing in forest     shinrin-yoku                                                                                   
                                                                                           in Arashiyama
with her      in twenty-first century style
and in other such claims of the bourgeois traveler



                           [   Why will I not name her    why will I not speak 
                               to her?    I want to spare her   no
                               I want to feel I spared her this historicity
                               and if I explain the gladness   I will harvest it
                               the new sustainability—                                ]


























also      the throngs of phones in front of tourist faces

                         [    Sudden emergency warble in the alder—     ]


                         [    Then, a robin panned 
                              into the plane of glass
                              (my relentless notation of it)
                              flailed off and submerged into the alder
                                                                                      saplings—     ]


                         [     Then I shocked to a finchsong—      ]


                 And I was back to Blake (safe ground) from a near-linnet’s 
                 song ripped from itself into this alien, human, distanced, 
                 tribal ritual, convey it or to channel it        vatic


         The composer near me said there were three forms of listening: 
the sensuous plane, the expressive plane, and the sheerly musical plane, but 
but we preferred it scaled into the diatonic


with no chromatic alterations



so that much was missed



          Blake said I’ll drink of the clear stream—he would not sing—
        and this was the grief: the fish of the sighers’ stream were fish
caught within a thimble-sized drinking glass
                                                                                                     dumb fancies

















     






Or was it the decomposing fish of Agassiz, finally described?


                         [    Then a green humming bird floated before me                                         
                              my notation of it—                                    ]


                         [    What is this false history?  what I
                             is this false history?—                ]


My alder leaves are serrated     and here comes meta phor

                                                             my use of the window as a frame
                                                                      
                                                               my subjectivity
                 spored into the air between our limbs
                   lodging into evergreen porousness
                  swelling through the rains into a soft 
                         blanketing moss-future






We want time to have happened before we did
but not after we did
the forest was here for us to arrive within
                                                                   [we paid our admission
                                                                   we paid to feed the deer  ]







































         The red alders on the edge of the continent will hear 
          the shallow breath outside the mouth of the creation

         without us, a bombast torn into the plane of silence 

           as the shelf slips at last into the eustatic Pacific

         we distance ourselves from our bodies
         these storehouses of bloodless meat erected on feet

         and whatever is made of alder is alder








                                               Yes now unlatch 
                                               the lock
                                                from this gland 
                                               morning’s sap
                                                into an instant 
                                               amber
                                                thought leaked 
                                                onto the lichen 
                                                 bole
                                               hatched through 
                                                  the window