Charles O. Hartman
From the portrait on its front cover to the notes on its last page, Island composes a love-song to a single, multifarious place. A masterful poet writing in his sixth collection, Hartman harnesses the number pi to find the form for its introductory longpoem; celebrates a Greek island’s denzens, furnishings, and views in a series of concentrated and eccentric glimpses; writes in Greek and translates back to English; and boils the cumulative song down to a rich prose meditation on maps and the body’s kinesthesis, wed in the knowledge that makes, however long or briefly, a home.
from Morning Noon & Night
A man with a dummy goes from table to table along the waterfront.
The dummy asks people for money in a querulous, tinny voice.
Some give a little, some a lot. The man is very apologetic,
he sweats in the sun, his jacket is soaked between the shoulderblades.
With the hand not holding the dummy he wipes his bald forehead
constantly with a plaid handkerchief. People look at him blankly
as they hand the dummy its money. The dummy wears a tuxedo
and a beanie. Fiddlers and accordionists
and the hawkers of combs and mums and lighters fall
silent and draw back when the dummy comes demanding.
I love the moment at the ticket window—he says—
when you are to say the name of your destination, and realize
that you could say anything, the man at the counter
will believe you, the woman at the counter
would never say No, that isn’t where you're going
you're going where you always go. Or to be sure
you could buy a ticket for one place and go to another,
less far along the same line. Suddenly you would find yourself
—he says—in a locality you’ve never seen before,
where no one has ever seen you and you could say your name
was anything you like, nobody would say No,
that isn’t you, this is who you are. It thrills me every day.
Copyright © 2004 by Charles O. Hartman