The Octagon House
On our visit we stayed at the octagon house—and were sleepless in view of the eight-sided land.Uncombed grass webbed the sides of the angled veranda.And on one side of the eight-sided landthe incandescent lanterns of the doll shops flickered on.And we stretched out to sleep in the blue rosemalinghouses of Uvdal, and the melon-colored housesof Forget-Me-Not, under the cool, peninsular hillsbeyond the spruces and glass-covered A-frames.And we were stressed out and wakeful on Zoloftand Asendin in the atomic houses of Pripyat,and insomniac in the blue-stanchioned shadowsof Shasta Dam—and through the blackberry vinesthat covered the round cement windowgrew dizzy watching distant waterfalling silently over the spillway.Some heaven-shining-august childseemed to be petting a deerthat was grazing yellow grassbeyond the hydroelectric building.And we were somnambulists at sunset in Anchoragewhere German tourists had gathered arounda gargantuan piece of jade, saying nothing,while it revolved there before them, coldas a fire clock steeped in withering rebukes.And we dozed in the bean-pod houses in the fieldsunder the mushroom umbrellas of Poisonville.Our nerves were stretched out on the grasslike sea kelp or sea nerves that have washed upand been strung out to dry in the high seagrass.And we came to a boil in the teakettle houses,became bird people living off the grid, becamerebels, bearcats, masters of inadvertency.Will you then lie spent on the coolmushroom bed when you are down againby the mill-track and the fernery?Will you contemplate the stupid grapefruit,the tedious eggplant, the intellectual thorn?And will you wake up fresh and confusedin a place you have been borne to for asylumlike a chick just hatched from a fire-colored egg?And will you see the starshipsdrifting over rain-colored mountains?The copper-streaked leavesthat shine in the pattering rain?
“The Octagon House” from GIANT MOTH PERISHES: by Geoffrey Nutter.
Published by Wave Books 2021.
Copyright © 2021 by Geoffrey Nutter.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Geoffrey Nutter is the author of A Summer Evening (winner of the 2001 Colorado Prize), Water’s Leaves & Other Poems (Winner of the 2004 Verse Press Prize), Christopher Sunset (winner of the 2011 Sheila Motton Book Award), The Rose of January (Wave Books, 2013), and Cities at Dawn (Wave Books, 2016). He recently traveled in China, giving lectures, workshops, and readings as a participant in the Sun Yat-sen University Writers’ Residency. Geoffrey’s poems have been translated into Spanish, French, and Mandarin. Soir d’été, a bilingual edition of his poems translated into French by poets Molly Lou Freeman and Julien Marcland, was recently published in France, and a German translation of his book Water’s Leaves & Other Poems will appear in 2021. He has taught poetry at Princeton, Columbia, University of Iowa, NYU, the New School, and 92nd Street Y. He currently teaches Greek and Latin Classics at Queens College. He runs the Wallson Glass Poetry Seminars in New York City.
With exquisite detail and humble sensibilities, Geoffrey Nutter’s sixth collection of poetry offers myriad delights in language and the imagination. In cityscapes, nature, books, and color, we find respite in the complexities of the commonplace—from clocks to teardrops to moths. Here are poems that teach us how to live in the world with curious attention. And at the heart of this daydreaming is a spectacular earnestness, firmly embedded in the idea that the landscape of poetry is limitless and wild.
"This insightful and vivid collection promises an antidote to apathy, inviting readers to refocus their attention on the wonders around them before they are transformed or lost."
—starred review from Publishers Weekly