Issue > Poetry
Joseph Fasano

Joseph Fasano

Joseph Fasano is the author of four books of poetry -- The Crossing (2018), Vincent (2015), Inheritance (2014), and Fugue for Other Hands--and the forthcoming novel The Dark Heart of Every Wild Thing (Platypus Press, 2020). His honors include the Cider Press Review Book Award and the Rattle Poetry Prize. He teaches at Manhattanville College and Columbia University.

Schumann to Clara--Bonn, 1856


Of my father I can only say
his life moved through him

like loons tilting toward a river
at dusk, not singing.  He touched my face

the way a blind man touches bread,
as though he could teach it

where it was broken.
And he did.  He almost did.

Sometimes I hear the wind
sifting the chaff in the fields, and I know

we were not made to be saved.
Sometimes I hear the colts

burning in the locked barn, and I know
we almost were.  

Fury
is not hard.  What slays me

is the weight of it, all that unfinished praise.
I would like to wade

through the tired vines
awhile, lie down

in wild grape
and ivy, listen

until I heard no songs
in the night air, no songs

but the first hymns that could wake me.  
Give me

this afternoon, this ruin,
the simple grace of each thing

in its shaking.  Make me
the song I won't have made.  

Grace
arrives to remind us

of the weight of it.  
It does not come

to stay with us, to wake us.  It comes
to lay its bridle

on our empty chests
and breathe its breath of golden bits

and linden
and stand again

and leave us, leave us
freshened, helpless

to tell the end from the changes.

After Sappho


Like the lost gods astonished into being again
is he who sits where he can see you,
who hears you softening with laughter

and hardening with truth, all for him.  
There lives in the human heart a music
like ghosts nesting in their one brief season

and it leaves me shaken, like a devastation
it shakes me.  Let me only glance where you are
and the wings are stilled, the music ends,

underneath my skin the flocks all lose their way,
migrations falter, the spring itself has lost
its way, my ears are shut with thunder.

And the salt breaks from me, the flocks
darken and break from me, I feel that I
have been changed, the dark birds

of death have come near me.


(after Richmond Lattimore's translation of φαίνεταί μοι)

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