for once / I understand / this beauty
Though my appetite is small, I will prepare a feast.
Stanley Plumly has been a mentor and friend of mine since 1988 when I took his Form and Theory class at the University of Maryland. Lummi Island is the most northeasterly of the San Juan archipelago. Located near Bellingham, Washington, it is served by a small ferry that makes the six minute crossing about once an hour. It is just two hours from Seattle, and one and a half hours from Vancouver, BC. The Lummi Nation are a tribe of the Coast Salish. The tribe primarily resides on and around the Lummi Indian Reservation. The Lummi were forcibly moved to reservation lands after the signing of the Point Elliott Treaty in 1855.
Translate: To convey to heaven without death
In celebration of the arrival of the Spring-Summer 2010 issue (v5.n1) of Poetry Northwest on newsstands and in mailboxes, we offer you this instrument of opening by Rick Barot, exclusively online. “I wrote this poem during an autumn residency at the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire,” notes Barot. “Prior to the residency, I hadn’t written a poem in many months, perhaps close to a year. And so my mind was full of half-thoughts and half-images and half-possibilities just waiting for some galvanizing energy to give them coherence. There was a rocking chair in the studio, and I spent nearly all my time in that chair, rocking and reading. On the day I wrote the poem, I was sitting in that chair and opened up Bill Knott’s book of poems The Unsubscriber, a favorite book. Immediately I came across the page that had this as the first line of a poem: ‘The poem is a letter opener.’ I closed the book, knew instantly that Knott’s line was the title of a poem that I wanted to write, sat down at the desk, and …
You write for burnt glass.
In the not-too-distant future those to whom it matters may look back at some point in the 1990s, when the networking of the Internet really started to take off, and wonder if at that moment the actual writing of thorough and styled and even personal letters, as a medium of one reflective silence speaking to another reflective silence (roughly Rilke’s definition of poetry), ended.