Entry for May 23, 2006

Today, I came across this wonderful poem, “Against God,” by David Graham , pictured above in a photograph from his homepage,  in the most recent issue of Salt River Review.

Against God

God’s not dead to me, just a concept,
like honor among thieves, like neutrons,
like progress with its contradictory flags.
I can’t even say I yearn to believe,
not with that boyish, tight-in-the-groin ache
that saints report–in which I believe,
at best, the way I acknowledge other
languages, other foods at distant tables.
Praying to God is like talking to a bank.

Still, I’m not denying the storms of glory.
With me there’s a wisp of cloud soaking light
from the far end of a loved lake.
There are whispers in the attic, scuttlings
across the cellar floor.  There’s the tang
of winter breath, the spine-stiffening spasm
of love.  A dog snuffling leaves brings me
good news from another territory
where I’ll never live and may not ever visit.

With me it’s enough, some days, that I lift
my eyes to both streetlamp and vagrant star,
that somewhere in my closet is a coat
owned by my father when he was my age,
long soaked in darkness and his smell,
a coat I can neither discard nor wear.

I knew David and his wife, artist Lee Shippey, when he was an English Department  instructor at Virginia Tech from 1981-86 .  The school foolishly refused him tenure and so he changed the credit to North Carolina State University on his first collection, Magic Show, which came  out from Cleveland State University Press in 1986.  He taught there a year before going on to Ripon College in Wisconsin, where he is now a full professor.  He maintains a nice resource page, Graham’s Poetry Library, as well as links to all his work available online.  I started a page for him on Wikipedia today.

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