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This issue of JACKET is a co-production with New American Writing magazine
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Geoffrey O’Brien

Impressions: 1929


It is not winter, it is not spring —
Green granite flings back
The wind’s bronze metal.
The mountains lie in sapphire silence.
Still quivering
From the wire whips of spring,
My heart is with the hunted bird.


Once, on a cliff, I saw perfection happen.
Here, thin ice flaked the water —
Over the bridge
The traffic purred and thundered.
The evening was like a small slice of cool eternity.
The city stirred about me softly as the air.


The plum tree is a fountain in the wind.
The wind was never measured into song.
I saw a mountain lying as though dead.
A small green grass tuft flashed his sword.


I wonder at your lips — young as words just flung
Out of a mouth,
Flowing across the roof like a cascade of water —
Or that your chiseled nostrils
Draw life from air.
But for you I might have been
A bird, a tree, a stone.
I am lost to you in the flowing of that water.


Bitter she wakes from idiotic dreams.
Smoke breaks into visible music.
Like a cosmetic, sunlight of glowing noon
Falls softly on her mirror.
The futile gesture of her arm,
An ache in the unopened leaf:
And in her heart, no less,
The thirst of emptiness.


These apples are strange nourishment.
My soul is untutored,
I cannot escape from the country of my mind.
Words germinate like eggs of grain.
I am one wool strand in a gray garment’s close weave.
The opal clearing is wide but silent.
In little waves of loneliness
See my potatoes looking at the sky:
And dawn slips in like news from foreign lands.


Mystery is exquisite,
Sea is great hunger pressed
To a full white mother-breast.
The gull’s wing is folded on the wave.
With cold blue tongue
From the swirling foam —
Waves like long blue flames curling to white —
The sound of water on rocks
Comes sharp to the ear.
The sea mocks the roadway.
Sound gathers and travels along.
Glittering space broods on itself.

(The preceding is a cento consisting of lines in poems published by Poetry in 1929. The poets are H. Boner, Sterling North, Thomas W. Duncan, Thomas Hill McNeal, Marshall Schacht, Kathryn White Ryan, Jamie Sexton Holme, Hal Saunders White, Maurice Lesemann, Catherine Moore, A. R. D. Fairburn, Hildegarde Flanner, Mona Douglas, Marjorie Seiffert, Harris B. Shepherd, John A. Holmes, Walter Kidd, Winifred Welles, George Dillon, Ethel Romig Fuller, Harold Vinal, Bravig Imbs, Grace Fallow Norton, Helen Hoyt, and Helmer Oren Oleson.)

New American Writing # 19 and Jacket 13   Contents page
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This issue of Jacket is a co-production with New American Writing magazine
published in the northern spring of each year by Maxine Chernoff and Paul Hoover
369 Molino Avenue, Mill Valley CA 94941, USA
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