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Theater of Memory, New and Selected Poems of Mark Perlberg has been published posthumously by Louisiana State University Press.

The book includes poems written toward the end of his life in 2008, as well as selections from his earlier books.


This month's poem from
Theater of Memory


Hiroshige
  Japanese Woodblock Print Master 
       (1797-1858)

Print, with his hand, his eye, was more than print,
And color more than color,
As the green of that Chinese vase—
Cool as a brimming pond one thousand years—
As poem, paint, sound, or cut of stone
Outglows its master.

That samurai is surely fast alive
In his hunched and silhouetted dozing, assback,
In the blur of fog, on the hump-backed
Bridge.

                          And the carved runners,
On my west wall, in a marvel of rain,
They slant into a shower of wind,
Their burden heavy, the hill steep;
Black tree-shadows leap behind the road.

Rain  pleased this master, whether falling,
Falling upon a dark, walled island keep,
Or drenching beggar boys at play, or in sleep
In grasses by a baked summer road.
Their shriek, clear, echoes down my western hall.

Sun, wind, and star wined and pleased
Him, in the prism of his largeness,
With his bags of color, on his sketching walks,
Who rendered composed and perfect
A hawk’s arc,
Above a distant snow-locked plain, star-stippled,
Where men slept at the foot of frozen fires,
Where perhaps one gray woman, at point
Of earliest morning,, squawked
Cold talk of dreams to the frosty spirits of air.

But rising through the colors of his stories
(As a horseman approaching in forests of falling leaves)
The samurai moves;  he rocks
In all odd angles in his doze,
Past twin hanging towers of smoke
From anyone’s embers,
Past the seawall dripping water, and slow,
Approaching with sleep in his eyes for a hundred years,
The gate of stone, the lantern burning waxen,
And, in the hollow, the dream-hung,
The fog-blurred grave.


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