2 March 2004 | Vol. 4, No. 1

Meditation on the Sorting that Evens Things Out

You see? If you're picking apples,

              it is pointless to watch the sky,

to sort each starry feather

                            that falls from its transparent perch.

Take those crows waiting

              in the black pine behind the orchard.

They're hungry like most crows are.

                            No surprise.

But listen to the tree of wings!

              The crows are planning something,

and through their hunger

                            all they can see are the branches

so burdened with fruit, so lopsided

              and dense that they begin to rise

in spite of themselves,

                            rise until they can no longer breathe,

until they are blind and small,

              until the apple pickers

strolling home twirl spirals

                            of red skin on their knives,

and spit the seeds

              as high as they can, the dark specks

falling on their heads.

                            You see?

They tore the nests from the pines

              and kept the eggs.

They sorted the good from the bad

                            and didn't look up.

About the author:

Joshua Poteat's first manuscript Ornithologies won the 2004 Anhinga Poetry Prize (published in 2006) and his chapbook Meditations won the Poetry Society of America's 2004 National Chapbook Award. His second manuscript, Illustrating the Machine that Makes the World: From J.G. Heck's 1851 Pictorial Archive of Nature and Science, was accepted as a part of the newly revamped Contemporary Poets Series from the University of Georgia Press/Virginia Quarterly Review (publication date TBA). Poems from the second manuscript have won the Ruth Stone Poetry Prize from Hunger Mountain, and have been recently published in Virginia Quarterly Review, Indiana Review, Ninth Letter, American Letters & Commentary, Quarterly West, Bat City Review, Typo, Copper Nickel, Backwards City Review, Handsome, and others.'; if (strpos($_SERVER['REQUEST_URI'],'galleys')) {?>

Author's note: "Appendix:             in           Snow" and "Appendix:           the           Blind (         Specimen    )" are appendices/erasures/ruins/white-outs/bones of my poems, "Meditations in Desert Snow" and "Meditations in the Garden of the Blind (with Whitman's Specimen Days)," previously published in 42opus. Some may call it editing, others just a gimmicky way to get two poems out of one. However, this method has been popular since the 1920s-era Surrealists, perhaps even earlier. For the most part, the goal of my project is to find the ghost underneath the ghost.

For further reading:

See the complete list of work by Joshua Poteat at 42opus. Browse the contents of 42opus Vol. 4, No. 1, where "Meditation on the Sorting that Evens Things Out" ran on March 2, 2004. List other work with these same labels: poetry.

42opus is an online magazine of the literary arts.

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