Return Song

Don Bogen

How could I mourn?Time cleansed the town,scouring to brightnesswhat had looked gray.High city hallat the head of its plaza,church like a missionwith courts and arcades.Where did I walk?Through a rinsed past:bungalows, old parks,old Spanish names.Street of the Oaks,Street of the Mill,Street of the Big House,our small house there.What did I find?The porch with an arbor,the chipped stucco wallrenewed in white paint.The view of the mountainsmore clear, more distant,my parents suspendedinside memory.Whom did I seek then?Ash in the sea,drifting in thin siltsome miles away.

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Photo:
Claudia Monpere

Don Bogen is the author of five books of poems, including Luster and An Algebra, along with a critical book on Theodore Roethke and a translation of selected poems by the contemporary Spanish poet Julio Martinez Mesanza. He has collaborated with composers from the United States and abroad. Prizes for his work include a Discovery Award and The Writer/Emily Dickinson Award of the Poetry Society of America, and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Camargo Foundation. He has held Fulbright positions at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry in Belfast and at the Universities of Santiago de Compostela and Vigo in Spain. Nathaniel Ropes Professor Emeritus at the University of Cincinnati, he serves as editor-at-large of the Cincinnati Review and divides his time between Cincinnati and Martinez, California.

"The poems in Immediate Song are clear, perfect stanzas containing interior music, a man's conscience, and his crystal reflections."
Washington Independent Review of Books

“From its stunning long poem ‘On Hospitals,’ to its unflinching view of life ‘in the twilight of empire,’ to its quiet, deft, and subtly lyrical ‘song’ poems, Immediate Song is at once an extended elegy, a meditation on time, and a hard-won articulation of the largeness of small moments. Simultaneously ambitious and understated, these poems are unmistakably of today’s America, even as they mine the timeless concerns of loss and memory. Bogen is a brilliant and singular poet―wise yet unassuming, sharp yet unpretentious―with much to teach us about the complexities of living in the world.”
―Wayne Miller

“Don Bogen’s haunting new book is a sustained meditation on the tension between transience and memory that we experience as time: ‘You are in there and it is all gone and there is nothing I can’t remember,’ he writes. Rich in observed and remembered detail, the work creates an immediacy that is deeply infused with historical and social awareness. From the elegance of extended discourse to the spareness of song, these poems resonate with exquisite beauty and wisdom.”
―Martha Collins

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