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Cole Swensen — Four poems

August 1427: Abundance


Item: this year:
                   and made so beautiful August that it made never of the age of
man alive
Comme (as) dit (is) est (said):
                but in that little hour did God labor
                                     and how it is appert = eyes
the color of wheat, the wheel
holding still as when anything thrown straight up, stops,
hangs, free of its own weight, just for a second, split

can enter. Wealth of sudden fruit, call me
whatever you want.


The Evolution of the Garden

As Albertus Magnus instructs us

that shade is dearer than fruit        and the trees be not bitter ones        let them
not be
bitter please
pass me the sun

There were three distinct types of medieval garden: ornamental, orchard, and
ones populated by animals and birds where we’re allowed only in shadow and
falter

walking on windows: hortus in which viridarium; virgultum; Espalier the king
         or peach with its
branches so arranged
that the ripening fruit mimes
constellations and passes through the entire zodiac in all the proper steps
                        : must be grafted, apple, pear,
                                           manor, and
                                                 there go the deer! There were
carefully selected and ornamented spots for viewing
 all of geometry
devolved from planting
         the three:four:five triangular section                     sang at night: O
Master of the Embroidered Foliage painting his eyeball green we were walking
through the fine tissue of which the ripping sound at the back of the picture
on the bottom of the world that
we could live here
                   gardinum
                   hundreds
                   of acres set aside for watching animals.


February 19, 1414: First Appearance
Of the Whooping Cough in Europe

all these cranes they say Omen as they might/as if A
triangular sky (Pray
         won’t you let me help you with that

white slice in (cf. white) (cf. within)


The Painter Rearranges the Mirrors (1415)

Languor. Succor. Ardor. Such is the tenor of the entry. You open a little door.
The door could  be anywhere.

And laid there a face. For instance, at certain points, no longer wishing or able
  to emulate Rome,
they began the year at Christmas for example or
                                    the Annunciation or Easter in all its moving
target and borrows
                              from the inclination of passing
                                            suns, seasons, moons that may or may
not occur again
                          (we repeat)
                              (because it seems)
                    Begin:
                    Here he put their faces
                                                  which were all
his.


                    (I rise eye by eye; I fissure plains.)



                    And repeat (again) (because it seems)
                    Begin: and whose will linger
whose wither
                              what king might               made of       mine he said. A window

is just a window                      looking out on a vast
                delicate brush               catches the ear of the sun
                across the year, which, too, keeps slipping: errant prince, anchor
                            in the wish, a wristful of deed: I’ve
                                                                            always
                                                                      wanted
                                                                        said the painter

                                                                              and so he did



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and Jacket magazine and New American Writing magazine 2001
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