Not the Wind, Not the View
Two thousand miles away from here, my father
is lying in a strange room, being tended to.
It is always getting later. No matter
if morning is dampening the earth,
or burnt orange evening rending itself apart,
the doldrums of afternoon stuck in between.
This morning, I was sifting through
a famous nearly-dead novelist's letters,
wondering why he'd kept them all
so neatly filed away. I wasn't certain,
but I had an idea. An idea
cannot fix a heart. It cannot douse
a house on fire, which earlier I thought
my neighbor's was, but no, he was burning
wood in his backyard. Right now, I'm heating
a frozen dinner. In the studio next door
a woman is singing, and a voice on the radio
is trying to resuscitate itself beneath layers
of static. I had an idea that each day seems
the same, yet somehow shorter.
Slight variances in the weather,
rhythmic substitutions in the traffic's pulse.
I'm not sure what, but something
is long overdue. Do you understand
what it is I am saying? Somewhere
in America my father is dying and I am
sitting here, listening to the radio.
To celebrate National Poetry Month and in appreciation of the many cancelled book launches and tours, we are happy to present an April Celebration: 30 Presses/30 Poets (#ArmchairBookFair). Please join us every day for new poetry from the presses that sustain us.
Copyright © 2020 by Matt Morton
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Matt Morton is the author of Improvisation Without Accompaniment, winner of the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize, selected by Patricia Smith (BOA Editions, 2020). His poems have appeared in AGNI, Gettysburg Review, Harvard Review, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and elsewhere. The recipient of awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, he serves as associate editor for 32 Poems and is a Robert B. Toulouse Doctoral Fellow in English at the University of North Texas.
“What follows are poems of arresting insight and stark assurance. What follows are the agile lines of someone who has mastered the sudden slap, the hushed lyric.”
—Patricia Smith, from the Foreword
“What stands in the back of Matt Morton’s beautiful and disturbing Improvisation Without Accompaniment is a persistent emotional attachment to literary and religious traditions in which the speaker of these poems intellectually disbelieves. Familial trauma and a foundering romance become occasions for a book-length compelling meditation on our particular moment in history, on the enduring value of person-to-person connection in a world whose ever-accelerating pace of change complicates and deepens the very needs it promises to satisfy.”
“Matt Morton must not have gotten the memo that American poetry is in an extinction event. These are poems of immense intelligence and presence as nimble as flames conveying the nearly unbearable intimacy this life demands, threatens and rewards us with.”