Thursday, April 03, 2008

National Poetry Month, Day 3: Maurice Manning

Maurice Manning was an MFA classmate of mine at the University of Alabama in the late nineties. I am in the middle of reading Bucolics, his third and newest book. His first book, Lawrence Booth's Book of Visions, won the Yale Series of Younger Poet's prize in 2001 (just after he received his MFA. Punk.). I've been reading Bucolics for a couple of months, because it just has that pace to me. I read five poems, then I re-read, then I go back to the five before it and re-read those. I can't get enough. The poems are titled by Roman numerals, and they all have the same speaker, an endearing, spiritually hungry backwoods shepherd of a sort. He is speaking, in all the poems, to "Boss."

This is one of my favorites (so far).


do you get happy Boss do you
get tickled by a funny bird
or doubled over by a tree
a lonesome tree less lonely Boss
because it has a horse beside it
it doesn't matter if the horse
is rubbing anything or not
as long as it's beside the tree
so simple Boss a horse beside
a tree it makes me happy just
to think about two things beside
each other the stick beside the fire
the rock beside the water O
the snow beside the sleepy field
O Boss the moss beside my mouth
when I bend down to say it's me
you mossy bank you happy piece
of green it's me beside you like
a bird I thought I'd let you know
in case you don't have eyes I thought
I'd tell you Boss what always leaves
me happy if you didn't know
already Boss in case you spend
a lot of time beside yourself

Here's a link to another that I absolutely love; you can listen to him read it, too, with his Kentucky twang. "Three Truths, One Story."

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