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found poetry

Finding ‘Open, not Glass’

A few weeks ago I was on the North Fork of Long Island in the lovely town of Greenport when I wandered into Book Scout, a used book store that I had visited dozens of times over the years ever since I was a kid. (My family spent every 4th of July in Greenport.) I hadn’t been out there in about seven or eight years, but the store’s dusty hardwoods were exactly how I remembered them. The gray-bearded shop owner sat in the same place, surrounded by fort-like piles of books. The loose covers on old vinyls were still loose, yet I couldn’t remember what section was where. Relying on poet’s intuition, I walked straight back to the left where I came face-to-spines of poetry books.

My boyfriend asked me, “How did you know the poetry books were over here?”

“A feeling,” I said.

It was a similar feeling that attracted me to the white spine of a poetry book. And the same feeling that lured me to a page with a poem that serendipity must have left for me, because it encompassed exactly how I felt. I am including it below. The poet is Edward Wright Haile from Virginia and the book is Open, not Glass.

I’m a fan of found poetry, but I’m an even bigger fan of found poetry books. Ones that have their way of finding you before you find them. It’s just a feeling.

“I feel like the Sound of a Harp:
a Prayer but not a Petition”

Today I feel wonderful
My skin reflects the sun brighter than it lands
My mind is complaining gulls
   lifting lanky white wings over the bar
soaring spirits high enough to see the arc of earth
   and higher still, able to hear
its gossip coalesce in eternal music

I am friends with everybody
but first off with what casts the shadow of my self
   with what chatters through my poor teeth

I laugh like a ship rolls and lunges
   through the happy storm

I present the chapters of a long book
spread simultaneously to the eyes
I am the sitting traveler you meet in a hot garden
      in the roaring springtime

A cloud of gnats, a mist of spinning gnats
   mating and marrying above the summer grass
      for hours
I need not live or die