Monday, April 10, 2017

National Poetry Month: Coleman Barks


"A Swan. We Turn the Car Around to Look"
(Coleman Barks)

Martha's Vineyard in January, island
    with seven, eight, or nine towns arranged
        around it: Tisbury, West Tisbury, Chilmark,
           Edgartown, Vineyard Haven, Menesha, and Oak

Bluffs, where we see a swan on the frozen
    lake, not stuck in it like the duck we heard
        about earlier today being pecked at by crows, with
            no way to dodge; it could only duck

with its neck, duck the crow. This swan alone on
    ice can walk and does, then sits on
        its big feet, soon, such dignity. No one we ask
          knows if it will stay through

winter, or if it's a day behind the flock,
    or a month, oblivious to cold, settled out
        on the open nowhere next a grey-silvering un-
            frozen center of pondwater. I love

when you say I love being in love with you, and I you,
    with dark lowering on this odd
        delicious sight,  singular, the three of us,
            and the glide into liquid.

Coleman Barks was born and raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and educated at the University of North Carolina and the University of California at Berkeley. He taught poetry and creative writing at the University of Georgia for thirty years. Since being introduced to the work of Salaluddin Rumi by Robert Bly in 1976, he is the author of numerous Rumi translations and has been a student of Sufism since 1977. His work with Rumi was the subject of an hour-long segment in Bill Moyers's Language of Life series on PBS, and he is a featured poet and translator in Bill Moyers's poetry special, "Fooling with Words." His original poetry collections include Tentmaking (2001), Winter Sky: New and Selected Poems (2008), Gourd Seed (1993), and The Juice (1971).  He lives in Athens, Georgia.

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