Almanac: poems by Austin Smith

By Austin Smith

Almanac is a suite of lyrical and narrative poems that commemorate, and mourn the passing of, the realm of the small relations farm. yet whereas the poems are all focused on a way with the agricultural Midwest, relatively with the folk and land of the northwestern Illinois dairy farm the place Austin Smith used to be born and raised, they're whatever yet simply local. because the poems ponder farm existence, they open out to talk about youth and loss of life, the lack of culture, the destruction of the wildlife, and the severing of connections among humans and the land.

This assortment additionally displays on a protracted poetic apprenticeship. Smith's father is a poet himself, and Almanac is partly a meditation concerning the accountability of the poet, particularly the younger poet, whilst it falls to him to talk for what's vanishing. to cite one other Illinois poet, Thomas James, Smith has tried during this e-book to write down poems "clear because the glass of wine / on [his] father's desk each Christmas Eve." through turns exhilarating and disquieting, it is a extraordinary debut from a particular new voice in American poetry.

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Sample text

51 Postcards to Andrew Wyeth I. A shadow pivoting on its weathervane. The egg box inside the mushroom basket. War medals, frying pans, crow feet. All sizes. II. Lime banks, fingernails, an aluminum canoe. Dead mice in seed sacks. An empty tin cup watching the bathtub overflow. III. Bricks on a millpond, scissors on nails. A river stone, longing. A bell rope, deranged.  . A chair no one sits in. IV. A pine chest beneath a basket of seashells. A kitten yawning at an old bull. The sheepdog and his answer.

The bikers are out, flocks of birds moving from body of water to body of water. They pass him in pairs and he knows by the time he gets there they’ll already be on third beers. The first thing the owner says when he walks in is “You must be the music,” and the machinist nods, though it wasn’t phrased like a question but as a command. A few turn to see who Dave’s hired to try and move them tonight. Breathless the bikers are in their black bodices, the leather still hot from the day, 28 the heat having found a haven in what once was flesh.

Someone had already broken and I had the distinct feeling he wasn’t coming back, that now this man was going to have to play the game out alone. Except I was there. Except he didn’t seem to notice me, so intently was he staring down the length of the cue. Maybe it was I who had broken. It doesn’t matter. They were spaced like spheres in an astronomy diagram, the planets signified by color rather than size, colors like those of old maps of Europe. And that man seemed a kind of god, poised to bash the spheres against one another, to sink them all in those pockets dark as the pocket a man pulls his watch from to record the time in a shaky hand in a little book.

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