poem index

About this poet

Born in 1963, poet Joshua Weiner is the author of From the Book of Giants (University of Chicago Press, 2006); and The World's Room (University of Chicago Press, 2001).

He is the recipient of a 2002 Whiting Writer's Award and the 2003-2004 Rome Prize from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters; he has also held the Witter Bynner Fellowship at the Library of Congress and a residency fellowship at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. He has received an Academy of American Poets Prize, the Discovery/The Nation Award, the PEN New England Discovery Award, the Joseph Henry Jackson Award from the San Francisco Foundation, and grants from the Illinois Arts Council.

He lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife, the novelist Sarah Blake, and their two children.

Art Pepper

Joshua Weiner
Scared boy, he even fled a cloud
reminding him of what might happen

when his father returned from sea,
wasted, to find him perhaps again

locked out in the cold, waiting
for other drinkers to come home

(his mother, her lover)--the catalysis
of routine violence passing close

like a storm cloud insisting rain;
until the rain did fall

and the father left, returning though
once with a clarinet . . . 

And when the cloud came back
in the sound of a memory

the boy had grown, had learned
to let it swell into the note

he now holds in me

as a laser reads his tone
mastered for fidelity--

sweet prismatic splinter and 
swing, a double-timing scrape

aiming for my ear 
alone in a rented chamber.

Nowhere, 
       and I'm with him,

fully in tune as if he stood
hot before me, his life

seeming no more dear to him
than the sax he hawked

for any kind of syrup
he hoped might creep into his heart

like fucked-up love that felt like love
in the belly meadow warmth of his measured joy.

Hungry Art, Art of wind,
of lips upon the reed;

Art of blue, foolish Art,
would you be so nice to come home to?--

Bragging his genius
for a time turned rancid in San Quentin,

swaggering with a ripped-off thuggery honor
and sick with the terror of not seeming criminal . . . 

White man junky thief
whose skin glowed narco-green

with the sound of Keats
amped through Pound

I repeat his name

jacked-in to the straight 
blowing of a life

clarifying 
like butter over flame:

what's home, where's harm;
how to fix; how praise--

Lover, come back to me.
Why are we afraid?

From The World's Room by Joshua Weiner, published by the University of Chicago Press. Copyright © 2001 by Joshua Weiner. Reprinted by permission of the author. All rights reserved.

Joshua Weiner

Joshua Weiner

Poet Joshua Weiner is the author of several collections of poetry

by this poet

poem
Why won't you make me now who wants a life
Inside your life?

                    I fear you as a thief
					
Stealing about the orchards of my future,
Green fruit glistening above a starving creature.

To increase the coin buried inside yourself
You need exchange it for an alien wealth.

Wealth
poem
What's that behind my back?
What's that gnawing behind my back?

It sounds like a dog crunching bones for marrow.
Bones here so old, the sun's dried up the marrow.
What kind of dog splinters bone like that?

Don't turn around, I hear it getting louder.
Don't turn, don't turn, its growl is getting louder.
Oh, don
poem
When I sing to you I am alone these days 
               and can't believe it, as if the stars

--while gazing up at them--just shut off.
               Astonished:

I search out the one light, brightest light
               in the night sky, but find

I cannot find it without weaker lights to guide me