November 2009

Peter Robinson


Peter Robinson is the author of over thirty books of poetry, aphorisms, translations, interviews, and literary criticism. Recent titles include The Look of Goodbye: Poems 2001–2006 (Shearsman, 2008) and The Greener Meadow: Selected Poems of Luciano Erba (Princeton, 2007), which won the John Florio Prize. Published in 2009 are Spirits of the Stair: Selected Aphorisms (Shearsman) and Poetry & Translation: The Art of the Impossible (Liverpool).

Life in Glimpses    

Like that landscape with its winter hunters,
an occasional pale or an amber
light glints from the outskirts.
I look out before dawn on the first of the year:
white ground, black air
through which the far lights flare.

Then, through thick filigree
of frozen fog along poplar tree
branches, come phosphorous plumes of war;
and evil is done in return
among memento mori
of our whited sepulchres.

I trace a dog's then a pigeon's tracks.
What were nerve-shredding reports
from mortars, petards
(or like, for that matter, champagne corks)
are firecracker remnants
cushioned on pristine falls of snow.

Later, in bleak-stubborn sunlight
that pristine fall gave way
to dark glints, wetness, crevices
from the day before,
our sorry world's injustices—
surgical cruelties, still another war.

Later yet, a fingernail moon
hung in a start-of-year sky.
I glimpsed at its fringes
(of a pallid blue with flaky pink,
and suddenly more of it now
a whole block's been demolished)
that chilling landscape with winter hunters
set the further challenges
out where they burn and freeze once more.



Credit Flow    

Rescued from a lost afternoon,
I wasn't much company for anyone; but
you drove me out of that aloofness,
not far, to where farm chimneys
shared a sky with flustered trees.

By the flooded gravel pits,
seeing migrant species fly
suddenly in their fancy thousands,
it's as if I needed the assurance
of wigeon, teal, mute swans ...

or reassurance of a day,
a wintry dusk like any other
and its chilly wind
threatening one more snow event—
another day been lent to us,
but not to be returned.



Peter Robinson: Poetry
Copyright ©2009 The Cortland Review Issue 45The Cortland Review