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A Map of the Night

A Map of the Night

Poems by David Wagoner
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 168
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  • Book Info
    A Map of the Night
    Book Description:

    David Wagoners wide-ranging poetry buzzes and swells with life. Woods, streams, and fields fascinate him--he happily admits his devotion to Thoreau--but so do people and their habits, dear friends and family, the odd poet, and strangers who become even stranger when looked at closely. In this new collection, Wagoner catches the mixed feelings of a long drive, the sensations of walking against a current, the difficulty of writing poetry with noisily amorous neighbors, and many more uniquely familiar experiences.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09275-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Acknowledgments
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. 1
    (pp. 1-24)

    She showed it to me shyly

    after I’d been away for a long time.

    She said this was the only one

    she’d ever tried to write, and of course

    it was only the beginning.

    She’d written it on her own stationery

    with an anonymous pastel flower

    in the upper right-hand corner.

    I’d seen it often before. My father

    had never needed his own.

    She said she couldn’t quite decide

    what to say next. She wasn’t sure

    how it should go on or maybe

    it shouldn’t, and she was showing me

    because I was supposed to know about poems.

    We stood...

  5. 2
    (pp. 25-42)

    I loaf and invite my soul.Walt Whitman

    began a poem that way. It was probably how

    (without those words) he began most of his poems.

    He disengaged himself from the whole welter

    of obligations, from what heshouldbe doing

    in his other world, andinvited

    (the politest word of all) a guest

    to visit him, bad timing and temperaments

    and whims and more impersonal intrusions

    permitting. It implied the expectation

    of pleasing and being pleased, of honoring

    and being honored by good company.

    Yet Whitman doesn’t say how often the soul

    had declined the invitation without regrets


  6. 3
    (pp. 43-62)

    All three of us stood still

    among tall fir trees. Two

    had been wading slowly downstream

    in silence but for the rush

    of shallow water. The third

    had been crossing from bank to bank

    but had paused, one foreleg

    lifted, one small black hoof

    glistening in the sun.

    None of us moved. Our eyes

    looked out into other eyes,

    trying to understand

    what we were and where

    all three were going to be

    in a moment, from that moment

    on and whether to trust

    what was holding us together,

    whether to let the clear, cold

    rippling water around us


  7. 4
    (pp. 63-74)

    A barn with a concrete floor, gutters and drains

    for washing away cow pies and spilled milk.

    Three stalls, their edges bitten

    and splintered by generations

    of barn-sour horses. A matter-of-fact garden

    with a hoe still stuck in a furrow. A four-square

    shotgun house with a roof and a welcome mat

    and shutters on all sides. An old orchard

    with eleven unpruned prune trees. All ten acres

    available. You should buy it, the man said.

    Fix up the fences, paint everything white,

    call it a nice name on a sign out front,

    and sell it to city folks as thoroughbred...

  8. 5
    (pp. 75-88)

    At first he’s making better and better time

    in his descent toward an unavoidable

    necessarily inevitable

    conclusion against a remarkable-looking surface

    no longer keeping its distance or its place

    in the scheme of things and then the worldly limit

    of acceleration thirty-two feet per second

    per second in free fall will slow his body

    down to a rough four hundred while he enjoys

    the interval to notice the steadily

    increasing size of the earth the inexorable

    enlargement of its horizon the revelation

    of all its topographical details

    its clarifying and intensifying colors

    and shades of meaning if he were a...

  9. 6
    (pp. 89-108)

    You could stand outside of one on a paved street

    and look at it and say it was your house.

    You could go to the door and open it with a key

    and take two steps and close it behind you.

    You’d be inside then. You could stay inside

    almost as long as you felt like. Nobody else

    came in unless you said so. Hot or cold

    water came out of pipes when you wanted it

    and stopped when you didn’t. There were two rooms

    where you could eat when you needed to eat food.

    There was only one basement....

  10. 7 The Eve of the Festival of Venus
    (pp. 109-114)

    Tomorrow, love for the loveless, and for those already loved: more love.

    Spring is new and is singing now. Spring is the world born again.

    In spring birds mate once more, all lovers agree,

    and the trees let down their bridal veils in the rain.

    Tomorrow, love for the loveless, and for those already loved: more love.

    Tomorrow, the matchmaker among the shadows of branches

    will weave her myrtle arbors. At tomorrow’s festival

    she will lead us into the singing woods. Tomorrow, Venus

    herself from her high throne will utter the only laws.

    Tomorrow, love for the loveless, and for...

  11. 8
    (pp. 115-144)

    The complainant is a big man

    in his own goddamn front yard

    in a wheelchair, his voice as high

    and highly offended (but only half

    as loud) as the dogs barking

    on his porch. His goddamn neighbors

    (a young male couple

    standing their own ground

    deadpanned, on the other side

    of the chain-link fence) went and aimed

    their hose at his expensive bird

    and hosed it. It was innocently

    catching a little healthy goddamn sun

    in its cage. The cop bends close

    to listen. Then he walks off

    to consult the complainees

    who say the barking, the barking goes


  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 145-153)