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Fire & Ice: Nine Poets from Scandinavia and the North
February 2004


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Echoes of a River: Poems of New Orleans and Beyond
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Touchstones

Gordon Walmsley

ISBN: 978-1-903392-69-0

Page Count: 128

Publication Date: Monday, October 01, 2007

Cover Artwork: T. Smith


About this Book

A touchstone is a stone used to gain insight into the qualities of a sample of gold. Gordon Walmsley develops this theme, the theme of insight, into a many-faceted adumbration of poems. He raises the question: how can we fathom the cold mechanism of an increasingly authoritarian world and be free to think and act as we wish, according to our inner touchstone? Poems and poetic sequences range from lyrical beauty to stark realism of terrifying intensity. A bold honesty permeates the book. Utilizing a variety of poetic expression, he leads us to Poesia, who appears to us in many guises.


Author Biography

Gordon Walmsley, born and raised in New Orleans, has lived in Copenhagen (Denmark) for over twenty years. A graduate of Princeton University, he has published four previous books of poetry, including Terebinthos (Salmon, 1999). He was also the editor of Fire and Ice, Nine Poets from Scandanavia and the North (Salmon, 2003). After the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, he has returned whenever possible to the home of his birth to give readings and poetry-writing workshops.


Read a sample from this book

Poesia

Poesia enters the silent room
she lifts her veil and folds it on the table
a sigh emerges from the threshold sea
for who has ever seen her face
there is a tumbler of water there
and shadows move over it like leaves in a window
we are at a place of absolute balance
before the hand touches
or the rush of swelling voices fills

Poetry is young and full of sad hope
with a heart that brims with what is not spoken
she raises her head from the stars below
and enters into their listening
then she melts into many pieces
to find the soul's secret coves
the harvesting glades of the mind
and within the eyes of those listening round her
not a word is spoken
yet when poetry draws once more into her own shape
they sigh like the rolling grains of the sea
for their hearts have found at last a sound

By the water on the table she places a silver cup
breathing her liquid thoughts into it
and those who are present sigh again
though this time
their sigh is like rain, like a summer shower
and not to be captured
and the chalice dissolves into a bowl
whose sides lift blue round the circle of men and women
and there is singing and singing and just plain singing
since a heart that is full can never be quite still
and must sing if it is to dance-

Leaving the room in twos and threes
in sevens and twelves
they try to remember like dazed apostles
what was said or spoken or sung
some remember words
and others phrases
and some remember certain resonances
and the colours
they bring

And when they awaken it is as though the colour
of the dawn
has tinged the waters of a glass bottle
poised on a table an afternoon
and they sense
the figure of a maiden
throwing seeds in a circle
and a sigh the colour of

shame


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