Saturday, October 3, 2009

What I'm Reading: Time and Materials

It's been out for quite a while, but I just now borrowed the library's copy of Time and Materials by Robert Hass. I read the first poem in the collection in the American Poetry Review two years ago, and I still love it. Here it is in its entirety:

Iowa, January

In the long winter nights, a farmer's dreams are narrow.
Over and over, he enters the furrow.

So much happens in those two lines, and the feel of the words on the tongue is sublime. I like Hass' shorter, lyric poems the best. The book is a mix of those and longer, more narrative works, which did not hold my interest as well. This is probably a failing of mine, as I can admire the fine craftsmanship of all of Hass' work.

Here are some other favorites:

from The Problem of Describing Color

If she tells a fortune with a deck of fallen leaves

Until it comes out right--

Rouged nipple, mouth--

(How could you not love a woman

Who cheats at the Tarot?)

Red, I said. Sudden, red.

from Breach and Orison: 3. Habits of Paradise

If I saw the sleek stroke of moving darkness

was a hawk, high up, nesting

in the mountain's face, and if,
for once, I didn't want to be the hawk,

would that help? Token of earnest,

spent coin of summer, would the wind
court me then, and would that be of assistance?

from Time and Materials

Or to render time and stand outside
The horizontal rush of it, for a moment
To have the sensation of standing outside

The greenish rush of it.

from "...White of Forgetfulness, White of Safety"

Ticking heat, the scent of sage,

Of pennyroyal. The structure of every living thing
Was praying for rain.

Support Poetry! Buy or Borrow a Book of Poems Today
Time and Materials
Robert Hass
ecco: An Imprint of HarperCollins, 2007

PS: This book is definitely in the running for best cover art and design I've seen this year.

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