Tuesday, July 20, 2010

"Journey Music"

[Here's the title poem to the collection of B.N.'s poems that we've been posting on Robert Frost's Banjo over the past several months; it's also the penultimate poem in the collection.  Enjoy!]

Journey Music

The world darkens into an unrecognizable form
Until even the latch on your
Own door eludes you.
Scattered throughout town tea pots cool
In empty kitchens, and after a while the little
Kerosene lamps flickered and went out.

Yet the town was not deserted—
Saturday afternoon in the cinema
The projectionist asleep by the third reel, and

That first night the neighboring dogs,
Moving wolf shadows, turned their terrible heads
And eyed you crossing the cow pasture.

By dawn they seemed to recede in
A damp fog, big, innocent, treading
The Roman stones in another direction.

Winter did not come those next few days, and
From the top of the hill you could just make
Out the road into town,

Near the marshes where the wooden handles of farm tools
Lost or dropped forever turned to stone
Houses and barns are abandoned.

Two days later in a village twelve kilometers north
People had taken to digging their own graves
Swinging spades, pickaxes and pails.

You watched the corollas in an ordinary flower,
Opening as deftly as the fierce heat
Trembling in the world's outstretched hand.

© to the author 1983-2010


  1. That opening line is incredible.

  2. Hi Willow: Yes, it is--a very very good poem.

  3. several readings open up the colors and the melodies even further. read aloud, wow.

  4. Hi Dianne: BN's poetry is definitely the sort that rewards re-reading. Glad you liked it!

  5. Unnerving and intense poem; the world in the poem seems to darken until the brilliant glimpse of heat and light in the last lines. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Hi HKatz: Yes--"unnerving" & "intense" are on the mark--in a way the flash of light at the end is just a different kind of intensity.

  7. A wonderful piece, as is always the case with B.N.'s work. This one has a terrible feeling lurking under the lyricism. Something has happened but we aren't told exactly what. An explosion, an eruption? All so beautifully told we almost lose track of the horror. Is there a story behind this?
    I’ve moved to http://secretpoemstls.blogspot.com/Hope to see you there.

  8. Hi Mairi: I just saw your move & became your second follower! I also believe I'm now following you on Twitter. I will try to find out the background on this poem from BN & will share it if she believes that's appropriate.

  9. One of those poems that just asks to be read two or three times - each time you get something new. And each time is a pleasure in itself.

  10. Hi Alan: That's very true--truly good poems invite re-reading, & this is clearly a good poem!

  11. Hi Mairi (& anyone else who's interested): B.N. shared the following with me in an email today:

    "It is about [my daughter's] grandmother--she was asleep under a bed and when she woke the Germans had taken the town--everybody was either marched into the forest, given shovels to dig and then shot into the holes. Some were shot on sight. The entire family was killed that morning and by some fluke--the grandmother who was about seven hid for a couple of days. When she finally came out the village or at lest the was empty. So it is a Holocaust poem."

  12. Slight revision: I think that's supposed to read "or at least the house"


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