Poetry conjures. World fills in word until word seems hardly spoken, barely written, so deftly has a line brought to mind the image that sustains it. A young poet may be a medium like few others, singing so as to see and to let others see, but conjuring within his song those other voices, kin of mind or kin of spirit, whose own visions secretly reside in his own. Grant Souders strikes me as a young poet particularly adept at opening a world within his poems, and by doing so, opening his poems to those predecessors whose pages link him to necessary traditions. If we can imagine Bronk’s urge toward phenomena blossoming into Blake’s sense of symbol, then we begin to hear in these poems their whispering sources. The voice with the most deep-set root is Oppen’s. Souders risks that most dismissible of poetic virtues: sincerity. He gains from Oppen that sense of sincerity as a form of clarity, and clarity as embodying an ethic devoted to seeing the world as it is. It’s no easy task, this poet’s approach to the simplest word of existence: is. It requires of him that the mind create the things it discovers and describes, conjure into existence on the snow-drift of the blank page “the mountain lion in the snow I’ve made.” It demands that he not remove himself from the brute facts of being alive: of eating and so of appetite, of mapping and so of trespass, of other and so of eros, of geometry and so of being bound. Such sincerity reveals itself not simply as an emotion, nor as the purist’s knee-jerk reaction against those easier ironies in which the culture abounds. Such sincerity reveals itself as a terrain, a ground, a place of founding and so also a place of finding. It makes of Souders’s poems something akin to “a fire to look at / and look by.” The object of our meditation is also the object that gives us vision—the poem, these poems, which do not play for us a tune, but give us “a tune we could play into.”
eye at the table at the map
scratching at the place the massacre
of you across
from across the diner table with legs left
thought thinking about the picture in Buell
I would conjure you
a precession of coal bounding over
over the traincars
like others we've managed what is
this all beneath the clouds: clouds
get out the house
prowl the river
feet soaked and slipped over stone
we could’ve drown & for the fish
a lightly tackled
to the greenery room
a box of bamboo to open
a cardboard box for the bamboo
to come to
the room i love in is
things i thought
animal lung in full dimension
billowing cell what’s made of us
when i walk
how i’d tell you if i could
how things aren’t mountains
sleep on the floor
likening to sound
beneath the fan blading air about this
room with this kind of wall
kind of seed sprouting pot
does one or many
see the four birds at the county line
pass and pass
unbuilt a fence
pick axe and all
we go to a dusty tract
where i jar the dust to grow it
grow it and leave it
there is a tune we could play into
my mouth with
thicket thorn, mudgod.
It was those things
I was thinking.
Each small god.
I was thinking and looking.
There is a room in the bouquet.
There is a window in the room in the bouquet.
To go to the peeling back of things there is enough room
rough room, all silk and buzz.
I go out of.
Out of the window in the room in the bouquet there is a street.
The street is a banquet.
There are animals at the banquet.
Animals in rows.
There is a wolf with eyes that is an animal and a man that is an animal with eyes.
There are other animals with the man and the wolf in the street which is a banquet.
They are eating almonds and automobiles and thicket thorns and gods.
These things are in their faces where they eat them.
In their faces are the things they eat, but before they eat them, they hold them.
They hold them in their hands, paws, appendages.
We could join them, if you’d like.
Then there would be the things in our faces
where we eat them and hold them.
the wood bison took
to the woods
to the mountain
with numerous woods
to the one I live near
full of corpse and furl.
Once, I saw a mountain lion in the snow I’ve made.
It was soft glowing not fierce but that was ages ago.
Could you believe I called for valleys
in the plain?
I couldn’t tell blue from hoofprint
shadow. Or it was blue hoofprint shadow
I saw wherein the bramble I live near.
In tough thicket brush we’ve been missing
our callouses. You have to have them
if you are going to go far
Where I live where I’ve been telling you about
and where I eat meat with others.
is a fire to look at
and look by,
where we could’ve seen
the wood bison
where it went
tho tickled and trucked by sights
until now unforeseen, of course, how else
could we notice the pallid shells
of us we could climb up higher
there at the top of a neighboring roof
how I wish we
how I wish we
could levitate more than none
which seems unaccompanied
by the naming of seconds, animals, whatever yet
we went out with the simplest of intentions
to see elsewhere and thus confirm
our little profile
and a little farther
we could all touch a different piece
and I suppose we
do see so
I have awoken from
when I left
light where I returned.
Here I am, am things.
Of willows lining
the bank of some creek,
from where I cannot see.
Where we are vulnerable
who see. The willows
Must we leave humanity
to love it? the willows
of it? Thinking of them
sprouting out from the bank,
some naked where
deer have gnashed away
at the swellings, too, of it?
as grasses and beetle kill
what have we awoken to
that seems to say our name
where did you come from, small alien
with your alien tools all splayed?
to display my hands
alien consults these fingernails
he approves of
things come swiftly
little rocks at your feet
a spade for trough
how the slow grows
cold on silvery bicycles alien,
it takes so long to approach
what you had meant to do
dell your dimples
deckle your hands
dew your feet
sleep when sleep
that limbo eye
myself might share
you are welcome everywhere
in my house