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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, March 22, 2016.
About this Poem 

“This poem is from a series based on a decades-long fascination with the landscapes of the early twentieth-century painter Chaïm Soutine. The critic Clarisse Nicoïdski claimed that Soutine was the painter ‘who made the wind visible.’ This series tries to capture and continue Soutine’s synesthetic grasp of the world.”
—Cole Swensen

Chaïm Soutine: The Errant Road, 1939

as if a road could be otherwise but geometry
defies the man who is lost on the road that
the trees want to reach and reach down
to his walking on
along a verticality that defies
the requirements of normative perspective
and so he will reach, and the trees against chalk—
the gesture of the arm extended is central
to all Soutine’s work be it a branch or an ache
or a split of the face, going off. In this case
can you say that a man is lost just because
you cannot distinguish him from the background.

Copyright © 2016 by Cole Swensen. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 22, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2016 by Cole Swensen. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 22, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Cole Swensen

Cole Swensen

Born in 1955, Cole Swensen is the author of more than ten poetry collections, including Landscapes on a Train (Nightboat Books, 2015). She is coeditor with David St. John of the anthology American Hybrid: A Norton Anthology of New Poetry (W. W. Norton, 2009).

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      noctes illustratas
      (the night has houses)
                         and the shadow of the fabulous
                     broken into handfuls--these
can be placed at regular intervals,
                             candles
walking down streets at times eclipsed by trees.


Certain cells, it's
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