NPM 2013 - J is for Justice

on April 10, 2013 with 0 comments » | ,

Today, a few poems by Donald Justice, whose book, New and Selected Poems, I really enjoyed a couple years ago. (This book is from 1995. There is another more recent book, Collected Poems, that my local public library does not have and I have not read it.) I had blogged about one of the poems in that book back then.


In addition to being a great poet, he is also renowned as a great teacher, being associated with the famed Iowa Writers’ Workshop for many years.


Here, then, are five poems by him.

Nostalgia 
by Donald Justice
Childhood, once vast with terrors and surprises,
Is fading to a landscape deep with distance—
And always the sad piano in the distance,

Faintly in the distance, a ghostly tinkling
(O indecipherable blurred harmonies)
Or some far horn repeating over water
Its high lost note, cut loose from all harmonies.
At such times, wakeful, a child will dream the world,
And this is the world we run to from the world.


***
Bus Stop
by Donald Justice
Lights are burning
In quiet rooms
Where lives go on
Resembling ours.

The quiet lives
That follow us—
These lives we lead
But do not own—

Stand in the rain
So quietly
When we are gone,
So quietly …

***

The Thin Man
by Donald Justice

I indulge myself
In rich refusals.
Nothing suffices.

I hone myself to
This edge. Asleep, I
Am a horizon.

*** 

Absences
by Donald Justice
It’s snowing this afternoon and there are no flowers.
There is only this sound of falling, quiet and remote,
Like the memory of scales descending the white keys
Of a childhood piano—outside the window, palms!
And the heavy head of the cereus, inclining,
Soon to let down its white or yellow-white.

Now, only these poor snow-flowers in a heap,
Like the memory of a white dress cast down …
So much has fallen.
And I, who have listened for a step
All afternoon, hear it now, but already falling away,
Already in memory. And the terrible scales descending
On the silent piano; the snow; and the absent flowers abounding.

***

And last but not least, my favorite Justice poem - read first when I was just shy of my fortieth birthday.  The first four lines got etched into my mind!


Men Turning Forty
by Donald Justice

Men at forty
Learn to close softly
The doors to rooms they will not be
Coming back to.

At rest on a stair landing,
They feel it
Moving beneath them now like the deck of a ship,
Though the swell is gentle.

And deep in mirrors
They rediscover
The face of the boy as he practices tying
His father's tie there in secret

And the face of that father,
Still warm with the mystery of lather.
They are more fathers than sons themselves now.
Something is filling them, something

That is like the twilight sound
Of the crickets, immense,
Filling the woods at the foot of the slope
Behind their mortgaged houses.


***

That's already more poems than I want to share in each post here. But there's more at this site, if you are interested. (I am hesitant to add so many poems by one poet here for copyright reasons. I share 1-3 poems usually - at most 5, like today - as I think it should suffice as an introduction to the poet's work and if you like it, it should inveigle you to go buy their books or at least get their books from your local library to read.
  

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