The Visitation of God; The Leaf Blower among the Swimming Pool Lights; Egg; & In Praise of Disquiet


In Praise of Disquiet

The years are fine with dust that settles in the eyes.
The stars are bound to gods from abandoned temples.
By night you fear the abdication of the sun.
By day you wear the light like a broken crown.

Silence, stillness, absence pass, pass and murmur
themselves into sound, and music is simple
on a tinkling harpsichord that troubles the ear
with the drone of a word no tongue can tell.

How can you measure the self’s impulse to savage
the truth in the name of ordinary, sensuous joy?
Would you rather live outside your own body,
high above the griffon’s wing, in an ultraviolet field?

There is nothing that exists that isn’t intractable,
not this glass of water, not the tears of a child.
The loose-leaf notebook flung for effect over a cliff
will tell the truth to the ink-stained sea, line by line.

Let death be an aspect of travel, a vessel tossed
on a horizon from which another universe obtrudes,
a wood-grained tedium that blesses the event horizon
with the somnolence of mercy for a self departed.

Be delirious in negation, conjuring blank images
to find within the stillness of your meditative brow
an answer silhouetted against the mind’s terraces—
and say No to it, since it is yours, limned with doubt.

The mouse twitters freely across the rooftop.
The owl is unreal that perches on the parapet.
The lovers lying in a blanket on the fire escape
let fall through the grates a page of their aubade.

You live in mission, in solitary devoir, for the time
you no longer need a maple leaf, a morning face,
to fracture the sense of unbelief into song.
Imagine the songless stranger who lives next door.


David Woo is the author of Divine Fire (Georgia Review Books, UGA Press), selected by Ron Charles of the Washington Post as one of the best poetry books of 2021, and The Eclipses (BOA Editions), winner of the A. Poulin, Jr., Poetry Prize. His poetry and criticism have appeared at the Poetry Foundation’s Harriet Books and in The New Yorker, The New Republic, The Threepenny Review, and other journals and anthologies. He is on the board of the National Book Critics Circle.