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Archive for May 14th, 2011

Less is more.      –       Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

My high school art teacher was more than eclectic. I can’t see a cityscape without thinking of Lyonel Feininger, and we did an entire unit on the Bauhaus. Gropius, Kandinsky, Klee, there is music in the names. Years later when I began writing poetry, though, I guess van der Rohe’s aphorism had failed to inform. My early stanzas were little bricks, four-square and chunky, nary a chink much less any breath. Did I imagine the proper density of “condensed language” was that of neutronium?

I trust that my current poems can sometimes walk through the woods without the need for supplemental oxygen, but I am still far from mastering that most ephemeral, jewel-like and perfect poetic form. I have yet to write a decent haiku. I get twitchy wanting to add more painted-on layers of complexity. I want the scarlet oak leaf to become a scarlet tanager. I can’t let the image be the image. How many haiku masters does it take to change a light bulb? None, for they are the light bulb.

I will have to be content to let that light shine into me by reading Night Weather. Stan Absher’s poems are airy, piercingly bright, yet willing to settle briefly on your palm. Never can they be pinched between thumb and forefinger like a dead specimen. Open to any page, touch your tongue to a line, inhale the pinprick drop of scent as from honeysuckle flower. In the book, the seasons of haiku are punctuated by longer poems, but even these retain the sense of being present in their one precise moment: low sun / raking the leaves / into long shadows.

On your neck, the soft breath of these images. And patiently between the pages, watercolors by Katie Nordt. Also deceptively simple in their color and form. Follow the quiet path that winds among verse and line and season and you discover a deep story unfolding. Complex in its simplicity. From less becomes . . . ever more.

NigntWeather_bamboo01_crop

bamboo

the bamboo grove
glimpse of stray light
butterfly

   

old house

no one can sleep

the flooring relaxes
on its joists

the downspout
hisses like a snake

in his shorts, Daddy
leans in the open
doorway, smoking

 

NigntWeather_eno01

 

Night Weather

JS Absher PoetryNigntWeather_cvr01

Katie Nordt, art and illustrations

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