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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, November 27, 2015.
About this Poem 

“The sun was so low in the sky on a cold January afternoon in New York City, I was blinded to the point where I had to stop walking. And it was a kind of high as my vision expanded; and the days collapsed.”
Howard Altmann

Paris Winter

That we can breathe and not forget
our dreams entirely. In the cold sun

the warmth of timelessness. There is
panic, rest assured, so much beauty

stirring, I want to touch all that
contains me. We know the questions

and the light shifts without a word.
In the clouds, a philosopher’s chair

rocks. In the riverbed, the buff
and lathe of stones, change glistening

past. And from the afternoon, drops
of her monthly blood drip down

the stairs, the kitchen table, all of her
unopened bills, a cold floor that timed

us. O, the ins and outs of memory
breathe, too, images at rest in the dark

chambers, the gilded daylight whir
a heart’s dusting—one walkup,

one post storm quiet blinking at
infinity. Who shot the moon

and claimed victory in the morning?
The constellations touch down;

the years collapse; the boom
and bust of love lowers the crane

at dawn: in what earth, in what sky
will the soul find its keeper?
 

Copyright © 2015 by Howard Altmann. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 27, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2015 by Howard Altmann. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 27, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

Howard Altmann

Howard Altmann

Howard Altmann is the author of In This House (Turtle Point Press, 2010). He lives in New York City.

by this poet

poem
We were searching for 
ourselves, after logic 
for no good reason, 
jumping fires to take 
the heat for walking, 
wishing the blue night 
not to fall into the blue 
sky and darken what 
remained. We were 
holding on to music
2
poem

And I gave myself to the poem.
And the poem gave to me.
And I gave myself to the sky.
And the sky gave to me.
And I gave myself to the wind.
And the wind took what I gave
and passed it to the sky.

And I gave myself to women.
And women gave to me.
And I gave
poem
To the night I offered a flower
and the dark sky accepted it
like earth, bedding
for light.

To the desert I offered an apple
and the dunes received it
like a mouth, speaking 
for wind.

To the installation I offered a tree
and the museum planted it
like a man, viewing 
his place.

To the ocean I offered a seed