introducing readers to writers since 1995

April 27, 2005

"The Other Perfection," Jack Gilbert

by Ron Hogan
Nothing here. Rock and fried earth.
Everything destroyed by the fierce light.
Only stones and small fields of
stubborn barley and lentils. No broken
things to repair. Nothing thrown away
or abandoned. If you want a table,
you pay a man to make it. If you find two
feet of barbed wire, you take it home.
You'll need it. The farmers don't laugh.
They go to town to laugh, or to fiestas.
A kind of paradise. Everything itself.
The sea is water. Stones are made of rock.
The sun goes up and goes down. A success
without any enhancements whatsoever.

From Refusing Heaven.

In discussing this, the poet's fourth collection, Elizabeth Hoover (Philadelphia Daily News) describes how "Gilbert forges his own path with writing that is at once intellectually dense and profoundly human." Refusing Heaven also contains "A Brief for the Defense," published at Poetry Daily, and Failing and Flying," on the Academy of American Poets website.

Here are three earlier works. Be sure to read his terse answers to the "What Is American About American Poetry?" questionnaire.

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