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Joanna Klink


Half Omen, Half Hope

When everything finally has been wrecked and further shipwrecked,
When their most ardent dream has been made hollow and unrecognizable,
They will feel inside their limbs the missing shade of blue that lingers
Against hills in the cooler hours before dark, and the moss at the foot of the forest
When green starts to leave it. What they take into their privacy (half of his embrace, 
Her violence at play) are shadows of acts which have no farewells in them. 
Moons unearth them. And when, in their separate dwellings, their bodies
Feel the next season come, they no longer have anyone to whom to tell it.
Clouds of reverie pass outside the window and a strange emptiness
Peers back in. If they love, it is solely to be adored, it is to scatter and gather
Themselves like hard seeds in a field made fallow by a fire someone years ago set.
In the quiet woods, from the highest trees, there is always something
Weightless falling; and he, who must realize that certain losses are irreparable, 
Tells himself at night, before the darkest mirror, that vision keeps him whole.


Some Feel Rain

Some feel rain. Some feel the beetle startle
in its ghost-part when the bark 
slips. Some feel musk. Asleep against
each other in the whiskey dark, scarcely there.
When it falls apart, some feel the moondark air
drop its motes to the patch-thick slopes of
snow. Tiny blinkings of ice from the oak,
a boot-beat that comes and goes, the line of prayer 
you can follow from the dusking wind to the snowy owl 
it carries. Some feel sunlight 
well up in blood-vessels below the skin 
and wish there had been less to lose. 
Knowing how it could have been, pale maples 
drowsing like a second sleep above our temperaments. 
Do I imagine there is any place so safe it can't be 
snapped? Some feel the rivers shift, 
blue veins through soil, as if the smoke-stacks were a long 
dream of exhalation. The lynx lets its paws 
skim the ground in snow and showers. 
The wildflowers scatter in warm tints until 
the second they are plucked. You can wait 
to scrape the ankle-burrs, you can wait until Mercury 
the early star underdraws the night and its blackest 
districts. And wonder. Why others feel 
through coal-thick night that deeply-colored garnet 
star. Why sparring and pins are all you have.
Why the earth cannot make its way towards you.


The Graves

So here are the strange feelings that flicker 
in you or anchor like weights in your eyes.
Turn back and you might undo them,
the way trees seem to float 
free of themselves as they root. 
A swan can hold itself on the gray ice water 
and not waver, an open note upon which minor chords 
blur and rest. But it was born dark. 
The shore of that lake is littered with glass. 
How you came to be who you are 
was all unwinding, aimless on a bike, 
off to retrieve a parcel that could only be a gift, 
or felt, as a child, the sea 
weave around your feet, white light rushing in with the surf. 
What lived there?

                      -Joy, dispatched from nowhere, 
and no need to think about your purpose, 
and no fear that the sun gliding down 
might burn the earth it feeds. Black habitat of now
in which decimation looks tender. 
Sometimes the call of a bird is so clear 
it bruises my hands. At night, behind glass, 
light empties out then fills a room and the people in it, 
hovering around a fire, gorgeous winds of shape 
leaning close to each other in laughter.
From this distance, they are a grace, 
an ache. The kingdom inside.


-from Raptus, selected by Guest Editor Phillip B. Williams

BIO: Joanna Klink earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a PhD from the Johns Hopkins University. Her collections of poetry include They Are Sleeping (2000), Circadian (2007), Raptus (2010), and Excerpts from a Secret Prophecy (2015). Her work has been included in numerous anthologies, including The Penguin Anthology of 20th Century American Poetry (2011).


Of her work, Klink has said: “In poems I am trying to find my bearings through a world that at times feels remote and inchoate and struck blank with noise. I would like to place myself in a field of deep attention, and out of that attention come to feel and regard with more acute understanding what is there. I write to be less hopelessly myself, to sense something more expansive than where I speak from.”
Her honors and awards include a Rona Jaffe Fellowship and the Jeannette Haien Ballard Writer’s Prize, among others. She was the Briggs-Copeland Poet at Harvard University and teaches in the creative writing program at the University of Montana.

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