The water shrugs, its heavy blindness.Telephone wires scan and creasecloud scud's bubbling lead,their copper threads are empty now, webof eerie interference, half-caught lyrics,a sound like the ocean.A sound like the ocean heard againand again; a sound like a way of listening.Salt drift drives through a puff of mist.With the changing of the lightdown the harbor boulevardstorms a torrent of quiet metal—a metal torrent, which freezesfor another light, the cars magnesicand pearlescent, sexual hearses likeblack capsules of champagne.They wait there steaming and red lightstreaks them as if they were wet.But they are not wet even afterthis hour's rain; their shells forget,and the eyes inside are the force of their forgetting,lonely pilots. I have called you a friendso we seem to both have liedin service of a small idea:small, silvering in the ideadid we lie together on a linen bier.Not-us flowed through us, a thorn milk,a blindness. When you swam from the worldI came with you. But you kept on; like mist,you receded faster than I could.If I lie, if I sleep,I can still hear you receding. I listento the slender waves pulse the harborback and forth beneath small craft, neverstrong enough to break, their forcegathered and relost.Gathered and relostbetween two gaunt long armsof crushed stone.
“Jetty” from THE COMPLETE STORIES: by Noah Warren.
Published by Copper Canyon Press May 18th, 2021.
Copyright © 2021 by Noah Warren.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Noah Warren is the author of The Complete Stories (Copper Canyon, 2021) and The Destroyer in the Glass (2016), chosen by Carl Phillips for the Yale Series of Younger Poets. His poems appear in The Paris Review, Ploughshares, Poetry, The American Poetry Review, and elsewhere. A former Stegner Fellow, he is a PhD candidate in English at UC Berkeley, where he coordinates the Lunch Poems reading series.
"The Complete Stories by Noah Warren examines public and private history while offering a path forward marked by responsibility and hope."
"Warren. . . investigates loss, grief, and struggling to make sense of one’s life in quietly burnished language."
"These poems recognize that endings are provisional, wobbling their landings in resonant images that linger past the finish."
"A living tradition is not history, it’s not quite the past, and it’s certainly not as rigid as what is called ‘the canon.’ However that pattern of time is dramatized, these poems come to acknowledge the pleasure of leisurely, lovingly, sitting around to share dinner with people who narrate these stories for us, listeners in service to the language."