Out of Place by Richard Jackson

Of course I love Rick's work.  I cut my teeth on it.  He's the person who taught me to write poetry.  But this book is one of the best of Rick's I've read.  I picked it up earlier this year and just recently got around to reading it.  Rick's work is political and haunting and beautiful and borderline surreal in its imagery.  Rick has spent a lot of time in the Balkans and the war there in the 90's, and similar genocides and human rights atrocities are made personal in his work.  It's almost like he's writing love songs to the dead.  Buy here.


From "Bosnian Elegy"

The tops of the trees still clutch, fiercely, the last light. / There's a bird caught in the chimney.  Its compliant / trembles down the empty corridors of the heart. / . . . There's / always another mass grave to discover. The crickets begin / to panic. For a while our memories fall into the crevices / of the mind.


From "Abraham's Journey"

Sorrow walked in my clothes before I did.  Flocks / of shadows followed me. One night I looked at the stars / I thought were gods until they disappeared. Some say / I smashed my father's idols and walked away. / Or walked towards a desert of barren promises. / Or promises that are hummingbirds hovering for / a moment then drifting away. Even now, walking / towards that mountain, sometimes I will watch / my shadow sitting beneath a plane tree, casting dice, / ignoring my steps.


From "While You Were Away"

I don't really know how to tell you all this. It's as if / I were left at the doorway of one of your dreams. / If only these words wouldn't conspire against me. / But even Love is an unsolvable equation.