Poem-A-Day

Poem-a-Day is the original and only daily digital poetry series featuring over 200 new, previously unpublished poems by today's talented poets each year. On weekdays, poems are accompanied by exclusive commentary by the poets. The series highlights classic poems on weekends. Launched in 2006, Poem-a-Day is now distributed via email, web, and social media to 300,000+ readers free of charge and is available for syndication by King Features.

Hermitage

About this Poem 

“I imagine everyone knows how it feels when a certain illusion by which he or she has lived is suddenly lifted, and the consequent combination of ecstasy and terror.  ‘Hermitage’ was an attempt to get across a moment like that in my own life.  As for those blackbirds, I can’t argue with Whitman—the thrush’s song is as gorgeous as it gets—but I’ve always been stopped in my tracks by the singing of the red-winged blackbird, that song with its hard edges and sweeping geometries, which seems to say something about the logic and the chaos of it all.”
Joseph Fasano

Hermitage

Joseph Fasano

It’s true there were times when it was too much
and I slipped off in the first light or its last hour
and drove up through the crooked way of the valley

and swam out to those ruins on an island.
Blackbirds were the only music in the spruces,
and the stars, as they faded out, offered themselves to me

like glasses of water ringing by the empty linens of the dead.
When Delilah watched the dark hair of her lover
tumble, she did not shatter. When Abraham

relented, he did not relent.
Still, I would tell you of the humbling and the waking.
I would tell you of the wild hours of surrender,

when the river stripped the cove’s stones
from the margin and the blackbirds built
their strict songs in the high

pines, when the great nests swayed the lattice
of the branches, the moon’s brute music
touching them with fire.

And you, there, stranger in the sway
of it, what would you have done
there, in the ruins, when they rose

from you, when the burning wings
ascended, when the old ghosts
shook the music from your branches and the great lie

of your one sweet life was lifted?

Copyright © 2015 by Joseph Fasano. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 29, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2015 by Joseph Fasano. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 29, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.