–after Joao Cabral de Melo Neto
To go to it often, to catch its level impersonal voice,
says de Melo Neto in the graveyard’s moon-white orchards.
To being hammered, the lesson in poetics, the speller of spells,
he says. What did you learn standing while the east wind guttered
over the fields of tilting stone, above the beloved dead, who
must love the stones in the field as they love the field?
As the stone loves, in turn, in its way, hardened and misunderstood:
It is not past loving. It is only past loving in one way of speaking.
So the stone teaches, and the stones teach, and you sat at their feet
and stumbled over your lessons. The stones made a catechism
for you, dense and like their hearts, resolute and singly knowing.
Who will recite like stone, like the stones? Who will bear
with compacted heart the inscriptions of the names of so much
that was beautiful? Will you? In their toppled kingdom, will you?
Frank X. Gaspar
From the Collection A Field Guide to the Heavens (Brittingham Prize for Poetry) University of Wisconsin Press
Frank X. Gaspar is the author of four collections of poems, The Holyoke (Morse Prize for Poetry), Mass for the Grace of a Happy Death (Anhiga Prize), A Field Guide to the Heavens (Brittingham Prize), and Night of a Thousand Blossoms (Alice James Books). His novel Leaving Pico was a Barnes and Noble Discovery winner, a Borders Book of Distinction and winner of the California Book Award for First Fiction. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Literature, a California Arts Council Fellowship in Poetry, three Pushcart Prizes, and multiple inclusions in Best American Poetry. He teaches writing at Long Beach City College in California, and in the Graduate Writing Program at Antioch University, Los Angeles. New poems appear in journals in the U.S and in the Azores, and he has just completed a new novel, Stealing Fatima, which is currently being circulated by Felicia Eth Literary Representation.