Poem of the Week | August 11, 2012

This week, with Leo roaring, we offer up this new poem by Christopher Bakken. Bakken is the author of After Greece (2001) and Goat Funeral (2006), as well as a forthcoming culinary action/adventure memoir called Honey, Olives, Octopus: Adventures at the Greek Table (University of California Press, 2013).  He teaches at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania.
Photo by Kelly Gorney

Author’s Statement:

“Confession,” along with six other poems like it, arrived during a strange and unusually fertile two weeks of writing last fall.  In each of these poems, two figures are falling apart in an imagined, somewhat allegorical landscape: the sea is almost always close; the mind is coming undone; and even the simplest objects seem estranged from certainty.  I think of these poems as dream songs and have scattered them throughout my new collection of poems, Impressions of a Drowning Man, which deals with the problem—or maybe the idea—of suicide.



Night came to hurt us from across the island,
resurrecting crickets in the old well.
You’d removed both of your arms and your hair
had turned to ash by the time I touched it.


If you go, I asked, how will we speak to those dead?
I said this knowing we couldn’t ever.
Yet monks had put out a wooden table
and were waiting for the blood and bread.


All day, the mountain.  Talking and falling apart.
I had to carry you most of the way.
All day: eternity and oranges,
stones and some fear I could and couldn’t see.


Now, a half moon and the stars were roaring.
The orchard behind us was roaring too.
I couldn’t bear their chanting anymore
and urged myself to disappear, like you.