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Signs, Translations

Signs, Translations

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The keynote of Signs, Translations is the productive work of paying attention to small, apparently passing, details.

Henry David Thoreau is, in a way, a tutelary deity for these poems, and the subject of the poem sequence 'Repossessions'. 'No one sees a flower, really,' the painter Georgia O'Keeffe once remarked. The intention of this book is to allow the reader to see street signs; house fronts; birds; changes of weather, even graffiti, in the light of poetry.

'Particular Effects of Morning Light'

Haze molds the streetscape,
leaving the familiar strangely
Brick never seemed so kind.
Neon, now, smiles affably.

Out on the turnpike, fog
descends, thick, unforgiving,
extreme. Eyes emerge
in place of tailights--the road
is a place of prowling beasts.

Then--gone. Clear sky, sun
on the rock of road-cuts, dyed
green, gold, grey: sandstone?
something with copper? Granite?
Why do we let the light so toy with the world?

John Hildebidle has been a teacher for nearly forty years, from public secondary school, to Harvard, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He currently teaches English, Irish, and American literature at MIT. He writes poetry and fiction. His third collection of poems, Defining Absence, was published by Salmon in 1999.