More Than Watchmen at Daybreak

Cyrus Cassells

The river's soft pistons, the river's black silkUnder shooting stars—The voluble ink and silver-white skyLooming above the stark monasteryBecome the coppice elk's vast eternity—The duenna moon,All at once coquettish,Brash as sin, blanchesThe river-curve, the heron,The corral of fast-asleep horses—August: the soul says,Yes, I was there:When raffish, runaway flamesClaimed the orphanage,When rampant smoke drove the dyingInto the summer sea;Present when riled protestors criedIf they fire into the crowd . . .And then they fired into the crowd;When the aghast stranger, fingeringAn appalling dungeon photo, asked,What sort of God would allow that?More than fleet, querying owls,More than nightlong watchmen,Born wide awake and dying, I confessNot even this wondrous colossusOf shooting stars,Or the extravagant Earth's countless beautiesSeem capable of quenching this lust,This innermost hunger for return—Lord Buddha, God of Abraham,I'm thirsty, fallible,Incensed and restive in this desert monastery,But not yet resigned,Full of questions and parryingFrom wolf's hour to blue hourTo burgeoning dawn—

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Photo:
Rachel Eliza Griffiths

A 2019 Guggenheim Fellow, Cyrus Cassells has also received a Lambda Literary Award, a Pushcart Prize, the William Carlos Williams Award, and a Lannan Literary Award. His sixth book, The Gospel according to Wild Indigo, was a finalist for the NAACP Image Award. His Catalan translations, Still Life With Children: Selected Poems of Francesc Parcerisas appeared in March 2019. He was nominated for a 2019 Pulitzer Prize for his cultural criticism for The Washington SpectatorMy Gingerbread Shakespeare, his first novel, and his seventh book of poems, Is There Room For Another Horse on Your Horse Ranch? (a finalist for the 2019 National Poetry Series) are forthcoming in 2021.

89

Boston, Massachusetts

Boston University

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Sven Birkerts

Senior Editor
 William Pierce

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Askold Melnyczuk

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