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FURTHER READING
Poems by John Gallaher
Advice to Passengers
In the Little Book of Guesses
Poems about Living
"I'm afraid of death"
by Kathleen Ossip
A Toast
by Ilya Kaminsky
Another Elegy
by Jericho Brown
Ashes of Life
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
August, 1953
by David Wojahn
bonne chance de lycée
by Buck Downs
C'est La Guerre
by Danniel Schoonebeek
Characteristics of Life
by Camille T. Dungy
Corpse Flower, Luna Moth
by Daniel Tobin
Costumes Exchanging Glances
by Mary Jo Bang
Daily Life
by Susan Wood
Difficult Body
by Mark Wunderlich
Elegy in Joy [excerpt]
by Muriel Rukeyser
En Route
by Darcie Dennigan
far memory
by Lucille Clifton
First Things to Hand
by Robert Pinsky
Flowers of Rad
by Sampson Starkweather
Forth Into View, Random Warriors
by Pattiann Rogers
from Oracles for Youth
by Caroline Gilman
from Two Inch Fables
by Marilyn Chin
Frozen
by Natasha Head
How to Uproot a Tree
by Jennifer K. Sweeney
I could suffice for Him, I knew (643)
by Emily Dickinson
I Have a Rendezvous With Life
by Countee Cullen
I Know A Few Things
by Stuart Dischell
In Betweenness
by Pierre Joris
Insomnia
by Alicia Suskin Ostriker
Life
by Joe Brainard
Life is Fine
by Langston Hughes
Little Night Prayer
by Péter Kántor
Living in Numbers
by Claire Lee
Lost and Found
by Ron Padgett
Mass for the Day of St. Thomas Didymus [excerpt]
by Denise Levertov
Meaning
by Carl Dennis
Meditation 29
by Philip Pain
Montparnasse
by Ernest Hemingway
My Teacup
by Alli Warren
On Disappearing
by Major Jackson
On Living
by Nazim Hikmet
On the Gallows Once
by Kofi Awoonor
One Train May Hide Another
by Kenneth Koch
Past Inclemency & Present Warmth
by Eryn Green
Poem Excluding Fiction
by Noah Falck
Preparation
by Effie Waller Smith
Primitive State [excerpt]
by Anselm Berrigan
Roar Shack
by Alice Fulton
Samurai Song
by Robert Pinsky
Song for Future Books
by Joanna Fuhrman
Songs of a Girl
by Mary Carolyn Davies
Sonnet
by Bill Knott
Spent
by Mark Doty
sugar is smoking
by Jason Schneiderman
Summer in Winter in Summer
by Noah Eli Gordon
Tear It Down
by Jack Gilbert
The Clouded Morning
by Jones Very
The Layers
by Stanley Kunitz
The Life So Short...
by Eamon Grennan
The Old Stoic
by Emily Brontë
The Pain
by Laura Kasischke
The Secret
by Denise Levertov
This is My Life
by William Stanley Braithwaite
Thoughts
by Walt Whitman
Thrown as if Fierce & Wild
by Dean Young
Variation on a Theme
by W. S. Merwin
Virgil's Hand
by Francesc Parcerisas
What the Living Do
by Marie Howe
What Wild-Eyed Murderer
by Peter Meinke
What's Left (Al-Mutanabbi Street)
by Katrina Roberts
Where I Live
by Maxine Kumin
won't you celebrate with me
by Lucille Clifton
Yellow Beak
by Stephen Dobyns
[I'm not with my]
by Joshua Beckman
Poems About Birth and Parenting
A Woman Waits for Me
by Walt Whitman
Acrobat
by Elise Paschen
After Making Love We Hear Footsteps
by Galway Kinnell
Before the Birth of One of Her Children
by Anne Bradstreet
Central Park, Carousel
by Meena Alexander
Curriculum Vitae
by Lisel Mueller
Daughter-Mother-Maya-Seeta
by Reetika Vazirani
Gods
by Michael Redhill
Goodnight Moon
by James Arthur
Honey
by Arielle Greenberg
Infant Joy
by William Blake
Lost in thought, the baby
by Rebecca Wolff
Morning Song
by Sylvia Plath
Motherhood, 1951
by Ai
Shoulders
by Naomi Shihab Nye
The Difference between a Child and a Poem
by Michael Blumenthal
The Mother
by Gwendolyn Brooks
The Sick Child
by Robert Louis Stevenson
To My Mother Waiting on 10/01/54
by Teresa Carson
Tract
by William Carlos Williams
Wedding Album 1977
by Tess Taylor
With Child
by Genevieve Taggard
You Begin
by Margaret Atwood
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In a Landscape: IV

 
by John Gallaher

Now the scene changes, we say, and the next few years 
are quiet.  It’s another curse, the inverse of the “interesting times”
the Chinese were said to go on so about.  Nevertheless, there it is, 
as the emptiness needs a something in order to be defined as empty, 
which means we spend the next few years talking about other years, 
as if that’s what’s important.  Maybe that is what’s important.  It was terrible, 
the hospital stay.  The children.  Not the children in the abstract way, 
but those times worried that this would go wrong, or that, and then things 
do go wrong and it almost feels like we’d wished for it to happen, 
so not only do we have to go through this terrible time, but we also 
have to keep reminding ourselves that we didn’t wish for it.  It’s Problem 
One.  And there’s our two-year-old son strapped to a board with an IV, crying.  

And doesn’t it feel like a formal device then?  As if expecting it 
were the same—or is the same—as willing it, but then almost willing it anyway, 
saying something like, “Please God, or whomever, get it over with already . . .” 
if the world isn’t going to be a museum only, as museums keep calling out 
that there’s so much more to find in the past, like ourselves, for instance.  
The simplification of our forms.  The question of why it might be important 
to save our dinnerware, or Yo-yos.  We have these accidents 
in common: last night I was pulling a filing cabinet upstairs on a hand truck, 
and at the 90 degree turn it fell on top of me and I had to hold it like that, 
one wheel on the stair, one in mid-air.  So I had some time on my hands, 
waiting for Robin to get home.  They say that if you relax, lying there 
is 80% as restful as sleep.  And knowing how to relax is key, they say.  

Here’s a guess: we will sit on a wooden lawn-chair in the sun, and we 
will like it.  We will run the numbers and think it sounds like a good 
proposition.  We will consult a map, even ask directions.  The sun’s 
out right now, in fact, and it’s all a matter of doing the next big thing.  
Driving home, say.  And then it’s a manner of having done something.  
Driving past the car wash.  Yes, forcing a matter of doing the next 
thing, which is filling out the accident report, while the old man 
who hit my pickup is crying in the street.  And then I’m walking around, 
picking up the fender and light pieces and putting them in the bed.
About this poem:
"In the fall of 2009 I was rereading John Cage’s SILENCE after buying a CD of some of his compositions titled In a Landscape. I had just finished a long collaborative project with G.C. Waldrep, and wasn’t thinking that I was going to be writing a poem, let alone a seventy section poem. What I would do each morning is put on the CD and ask myself a question (some of them the same questions Cage wrestles with in his book) and then try to answer it 'without making anything up' (whatever that might mean). In section four, I had the first two stanzas written in the morning, thinking about a time our son, Eliot, was in the hospital. And that evening, while driving home after dropping off some visiting writers, I was in a minor car accident, which gave me the final stanza. The full poem will be coming out next September from BOA."

—John Gallaher






Copyright © 2013 by John Gallaher. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on November 18, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.
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