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Burt Kimmelman reads from Gradually the World

On April 21, at the Kinokuniya Bookstore, Burt Kimmelman read from his new book, Gradually the World: New and Selected Poems, 1982 – 2013. Robert Creeley once said his work was “the wonder in the world itself.” And Jerome Rothenberg wrote that his poems were “a strict & powerful accounting, leaving me—for one—filled with admiration and hooked on every word.” Burt is Everyman showing us what he sees and feels, the aura of the common day. Enjoy.

Early April Morning

dazed spring approaches
—William Carlos Williams

A few birds twirling their notes in
the new light and my neighbor, hunched
over his garden, the hood of
his sweatshirt keeping his thoughts
to himself, looks past me as I bend
to take hold of the newspaper
tossed on my walk before dawn when
wet, dense darkness was all there was—

but then I hear his “good morning,”
he and I standing upright for
a moment before his turn back
to work, the bamboo prongs of his
rake softly scraping the soil
the night’s rain has softened, to make
ready for planting flowers, the
early hours otherwise still.

Looking through the Picture Window at Poets House
Late March 2011, New York City

The filigree of twigs on bare
branches though the park, the river
beyond invisible in fog,
a woman pushes her baby
carriage along the street, holding
the hand of her older child,
a girl in red jacket and cap
prancing behind, looking away.

Arctic Terns

White clouds like kerchiefs at parting
Are waved by the wandering wind,
And the heart of the wind
Aches at the silence of love.
– Pablo Neruda

Arctic terns touch down from the sky
every few years, leaving their life
of flight to raise their young and then,
in the waning light, lift off the
firm earth of Greenland to make their

way south – roving high above the
ocean, not too close to land but
looping east to trace the coast of
Africa or west along the
shores of South America, then

finally crossing the open
sea to the farthest reach of ice –
for a second season of days.
In large flocks they eye the water
for food, and once a male has fed

his future mate her fill of fish –
in a rite beyond gravity –
they join for their entire lives.
Yet flying must be an act of
solitude, an unfed longing.

5.2.87 Waiting For Diane At The Klee Show / Museum Of Modern Art

If in the space
there are 2

lines, let one be
the wild happiness

the edge

measures. And if
there are faces,

we are
their round eyes,

or the hat the foot

the finger all the lighted

there. if
in the warm

light we must be

them, then we must

them. Let
the o

in oh you

mean we are

any form.

Sol Lewitt’s Double Pyramid
Whitney Museum Restaurant, 12.23.00

The other side of
the picture window,
its light borrowed from
above where the stone
blocks at street level

rest adjacent to
a hot dog wagon,
telephone booths and
people on their way
through the winter haze —

we hold whatever
glow there is, the clink
of dishes cutting
across the waves of
conversation, a

reprieve against the
dazzling colors on
the gallery walls.
How incredibly
lucky art is, its

shining like the sun,
undaunted – and we,
too, from below the
summit, in our odd
ways make it come true.


Burt Kimmelman

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