Viewing Category : Joe Bolton

“The Starlessness of the Fortieth Year” by Joe Bolton

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“Maybe it’s OK after all if youNever write the great novel or make loveTo the tan, oiled movie star in Rio.Stretched out under an ordinary mauveSky, you count the stars that couldn’t care lessAbout you. Blinded by their own cold light,They’ve wheeled t…

“Smoke and Gold: Cedar Key, 1988” by Joe Bolton

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When a moon rises to moor the evening star,
The Gulf swells, making the distance to Texas
Irrevocable. . . .
                          There are ships out there
That say goodbye repeatedly in your sleep,
Ships that never arrived
Where someone might still stand waiting
On the far shore.

                          Meanwhile,
There is the magic Floridian hour
When the sea flashes with sunset,
When the sky becomes almost
Tangible in its painterliness, and memory
Rolls loaded dice across the waves. . . .

Still, in the soft metallic resonance of twilight,
The closest thing you have left to a soul
Is the smoke from your cigarette drifting out the window
Of a hotel room, number nine, and what little
You can remember of the little love you made.

And at night here there’s nothing to do
But lie down beside your lost self
And the lost selves of others you have lost . . .

—As the dark ghosts of ships
Sound their goodbyes, never arriving
                                                    at the far shore.

– Joe Bolton, from The Last Nostalgia

“Smoke and Gold: Cedar Key, 1988” by Joe Bolton

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When a moon rises to moor the evening star,
The Gulf swells, making the distance to Texas
Irrevocable. . . .
                          There are ships out there
That say goodbye repeatedly in your sleep,
Ships that never arrived
Where someone might still stand waiting
On the far shore.

                          Meanwhile,
There is the magic Floridian hour
When the sea flashes with sunset,
When the sky becomes almost
Tangible in its painterliness, and memory
Rolls loaded dice across the waves. . . .

Still, in the soft metallic resonance of twilight,
The closest thing you have left to a soul
Is the smoke from your cigarette drifting out the window
Of a hotel room, number nine, and what little
You can remember of the little love you made.

And at night here there’s nothing to do
But lie down beside your lost self
And the lost selves of others you have lost . . .

—As the dark ghosts of ships
Sound their goodbyes, never arriving
                                                    at the far shore.

– Joe Bolton, from The Last Nostalgia

“The New Gods” by Joe Bolton

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And then, for a long time, nothing happened.
The citizens slept in the sleeping cities
And rose at dawn and worked and loved and slept.
Nobody knew just how long this would last.

It happened because it wanted to happen.
Young, sculptural, the gods rose in the cities.
Lush, sexual, they shone as the citizens slept.
Lovely, they filled the screens but couldn’t last.

It happened because it had to happen.
Moving sleepless through the sleepless cities,
Filling the dreams of citizens who slept,
They too just wanted to sleep at the last.

Not from the snow-marbled heights of mountains,
Not from the deep blue rivers the snow made,
Not from the sweet blue nowhere of the sky,

But from the scented gloss of magazines,
From New York, Houston, and L.A., they came–
To become immortal, and then to die.

– Joe Bolton, from “The Last Nostalgia”

“The New Gods” by Joe Bolton

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And then, for a long time, nothing happened.
The citizens slept in the sleeping cities
And rose at dawn and worked and loved and slept.
Nobody knew just how long this would last.

It happened because it wanted to happen.
Young, sculptural, the gods rose in the cities.
Lush, sexual, they shone as the citizens slept.
Lovely, they filled the screens but couldn’t last.

It happened because it had to happen.
Moving sleepless through the sleepless cities,
Filling the dreams of citizens who slept,
They too just wanted to sleep at the last.

Not from the snow-marbled heights of mountains,
Not from the deep blue rivers the snow made,
Not from the sweet blue nowhere of the sky,

But from the scented gloss of magazines,
From New York, Houston, and L.A., they came–
To become immortal, and then to die.

– Joe Bolton, from “The Last Nostalgia”

“The Prototypical Ghosts” by Joe Bolton

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The west field, wasted, seems day by day to recede
From the warped kitchen window where you stand in steam,
Your hand gone limp as the rag that won’t drop from it.
Like wom-out records, your frail parents, aging

Even when you were born, in their dotage
Seem more and more the prototypical ghosts
Of themselves, as if fifty years of food
From the same gray land had turned them gray as the land.

They hardly make a sound now, unless it is
To rasp a vague complaint, half remember a year
That has forgotten them, or tap against the table
Some object that’s outlasted its significance.

– Joe Bolton, from “The Last Nostalgia”

“The Prototypical Ghosts” by Joe Bolton

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The west field, wasted, seems day by day to recede
From the warped kitchen window where you stand in steam,
Your hand gone limp as the rag that won’t drop from it.
Like wom-out records, your frail parents, aging

Even when you were born, in their dotage
Seem more and more the prototypical ghosts
Of themselves, as if fifty years of food
From the same gray land had turned them gray as the land.

They hardly make a sound now, unless it is
To rasp a vague complaint, half remember a year
That has forgotten them, or tap against the table
Some object that’s outlasted its significance.

– Joe Bolton, from “The Last Nostalgia”

“Lament on New Year’s Day” by Joe Bolton

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I used to stroll untroubled down the variegated street, 
The street I knew as I knew my own mind,  
Where everything was real and without novelty.  
And giving myself away to the depths of things,  
I was gone.  

Later, I doubled back down that same street, 
Perhaps hoping to find the past lurking  
In that wound of a room we’d shared  
In the house on the corner.  
And it was as if nothing had happened  
In the years since her leaving.  

Still, they don’t come back, the great days, 
The cries clarified with distance,  
The fragrant lining of a patent leather shoe 
Already beautiful beyond its function.  

There was a precise moment towards dusk  
When the window of a certain room was ringed with light, 
And the dark walnut of an antique desk proclaimed  
That those who were able to save themselves  
Would be twice reimbursed tomorrow for their suffering.  

Now, a V-shape of migrating geese  
Or bombers on a practice mission  
Freezes in mid-flight and turns to blue ash 
In the sky above 1986.  

– by Joe Bolton, from “The Last Nostalgia”

“Lament on New Year’s Day” by Joe Bolton

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I used to stroll untroubled down the variegated street,
The street I knew as I knew my own mind,
Where everything was real and without novelty.
And giving myself away to the depths of things,
I was gone.

Later, I doubled back down that same street,
Perhaps hoping to find the past lurking
In that wound of a room we’d shared
In the house on the corner.
And it was as if nothing had happened
In the years since her leaving.

Still, they don’t come back, the great days,
The cries clarified with distance,
The fragrant lining of a patent leather shoe
Already beautiful beyond its function.

There was a precise moment towards dusk
When the window of a certain room was ringed with light,
And the dark walnut of an antique desk proclaimed
That those who were able to save themselves
Would be twice reimbursed tomorrow for their suffering.

Now, a V-shape of migrating geese
Or bombers on a practice mission
Freezes in mid-flight and turns to blue ash
In the sky above 1986.

– Joe Bolton, from “The Last Nostalgia”

Lost Winter Seascape with Figures

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“Once there was a world you could 
Hold in the palm of your hand,
And upon which the snow was 
Always just starting to fall–
World of a city that lay  
By a body of water  
Where people gathered to watch 
Ships set sail for other worlds.  
And high over the city  
At the edge of the water,  
Stood a great woman of stone 
Whose name no one remembers.  
Once there was a world you could 
Hold in the palm of your hand, 
And, by turning it over,  
Make the first soft snow swirl down  
On the lit houses of those  
Whose name no one remembers, 
But who, it seems now, must have 
Loved one another greatly.  
Why else would they have taken 
The trouble to put her there–
Stone woman who stood waiting 
For ships that never came back?”
– Joe Bolton, from ‘American Variations’

Lost Winter Seascape with Figures

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“Once there was a world you could 
Hold in the palm of your hand,
And upon which the snow was 
Always just starting to fall–
World of a city that lay  
By a body of water  
Where people gathered to watch 
Ships set sail for other worlds.  
And high over the city  
At the edge of the water,  
Stood a great woman of stone 
Whose name no one remembers.  
Once there was a world you could 
Hold in the palm of your hand, 
And, by turning it over,  
Make the first soft snow swirl down  
On the lit houses of those  
Whose name no one remembers, 
But who, it seems now, must have 
Loved one another greatly.  
Why else would they have taken 
The trouble to put her there–
Stone woman who stood waiting 
For ships that never came back?”
– Joe Bolton, from ‘American Variations’

“Prelude: Late Twentieth-Century Piece”

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And after pain, the calm—dark records on dark shelves:
Some notion of romance we never got over,
Some sweet past theme we kept trying to recover,
Some concept of ourselves as more than our lost selves.

If we cannot be lovers, we will be players,
Throttling sharp-dressed and muscled, guns in our pockets
For good luck, through the new cities of the tropics–
Deco, palm, flamingo, blues and greens in layers.

This is the dead end of the end of the dead day.
Starlit, remembering what we outlived, we lie
Watching old films of us sweep the ceiling: the sigh
Of flesh on flesh, the cut, and the turning away.

– by Joe Bolton, from “The Last Nostalgia”

<br /> <img src=”http://www.assoc-amazon.com/s/noscript?tag=archmemory-20″ alt=”” /><br />

“Prelude: Late Twentieth-Century Piece”

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And after pain, the calm—dark records on dark shelves:
Some notion of romance we never got over,
Some sweet past theme we kept trying to recover,
Some concept of ourselves as more than our lost selves.

If we cannot be lovers, we will be players,
Throttling sharp-dressed and muscled, guns in our pockets
For good luck, through the new cities of the tropics–
Deco, palm, flamingo, blues and greens in layers.

This is the dead end of the end of the dead day.
Starlit, remembering what we outlived, we lie
Watching old films of us sweep the ceiling: the sigh
Of flesh on flesh, the cut, and the turning away.

– by Joe Bolton, from “The Last Nostalgia”

<br /> <img src=”http://www.assoc-amazon.com/s/noscript?tag=archmemory-20″ alt=”” /><br />

“One World” by Joe Bolton

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I have a photograph:
It is the green of a Kentucky summer,
A few skinny sycamores
Gone white with afternoon light,
A shadowed dirt road
Curving off who knows where in the distance.
You are leaning against a blue fence,
Legs tan and hair bleached a little from the sun,
My T-shirt tenting your breast.
Years later and a thousand miles removed.
A waiter named Rico lifts his sad eyebrows.
I nod.
I’ve been drinking at this crummy bar
In the spring dusk of Florida,
Watching the cars go by
With their headlights just on,
Hearing a siren wail.
I don’t remember how it was
We came to live in cities.
But I think that somewhere this evening
A man has checked into a cheap motel
And shot himself in the head.
His driver’s license and an empty bottle
Laid on the bedside table
For explanation.
Maybe he had a photograph
He couldn’t reconcile his life with anymore
And wondered, at the end,
What he had come here hoping to find.
Soon enough now,
I’ll be either drunk or out of money.
And there will be nothing to do
But walk back home in the first dark.
I can see on the television
It’s cold where you are,
And the sky is failing all across America.
Why were you smiling
That afternoon so long ago?
I can only think we must have been happy.
Somehow that helps.
We are still here, after all,
And it is the same world.

-from “The Last Nostalgia”

“One World” by Joe Bolton

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I have a photograph:
It is the green of a Kentucky summer,
A few skinny sycamores
Gone white with afternoon light,
A shadowed dirt road
Curving off who knows where in the distance.
You are leaning against a blue fence,
Legs tan and hair bleached a little from the sun,
My T-shirt tenting your breast.
Years later and a thousand miles removed.
A waiter named Rico lifts his sad eyebrows.
I nod.
I’ve been drinking at this crummy bar
In the spring dusk of Florida,
Watching the cars go by
With their headlights just on,
Hearing a siren wail.
I don’t remember how it was
We came to live in cities.
But I think that somewhere this evening
A man has checked into a cheap motel
And shot himself in the head.
His driver’s license and an empty bottle
Laid on the bedside table
For explanation.
Maybe he had a photograph
He couldn’t reconcile his life with anymore
And wondered, at the end,
What he had come here hoping to find.
Soon enough now,
I’ll be either drunk or out of money.
And there will be nothing to do
But walk back home in the first dark.
I can see on the television
It’s cold where you are,
And the sky is failing all across America.
Why were you smiling
That afternoon so long ago?
I can only think we must have been happy.
Somehow that helps.
We are still here, after all,
And it is the same world.

-from “The Last Nostalgia”

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