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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 10, Number 2, June 2016

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Judson Evans
Holbrook, Massachusetts, USA


Blue Poles

You came out of the blast shouldering the camera saying, "It really is a Heraclitian fire . . . ." First, fire in the scrub pines; then, yesterday, seventy mile an hour winds. Petrarch would have known this. The two paths to the summit are marked with red and blue poles. He would have had the ready metaphor: the slack, sweaty compromise of earthly love compared to the steep, more godly love, more rigorous climb.

Once drunk after a wedding, the cloud of inchoate things blown back in me, I lay across the railroad tracks behind your house in my suit coat. The next morning I found the rail marks in black grease. Friendship with its gaps and ligatures; trestles and ties. All these years later, I'm still designated driver.

Pollock, violently drunk, flourished a butcher knife when Tony Smith drove back to the shed to talk him down. Nothing worked except: tug him to the floor—to the canvas stretched there, to delve together flinging paint and gouging. Only afterward Pollock, alone, stabilized the maelstrom with the swatch of blue poles.

Today, I choose them—the blue poles, lower path Petrarch took, his poems in my head translate back to raw sensations—the northern wheatear nesting on the ground, wild artichokes gone to seed. But it's a long way down from his abstractions, refined, coded, layer over layer. A thick film of fog, an overlay of allegory.

bracken sieve
of his sestina's end words:
earth, sun, day, forest, dawn . . .

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