Songs of Unreason

Jim Harrison’s newest poetry book, “Songs of Unreason,” is even more moving that his recent “Saving Daylight,” and “In Search of Small Gods.” The poet in winter, yes, but his mind is still on fire, the fire of recurring youth, and a blending of flowing memories of the last moment and  moments far past reborn. When I told my friend Red Pine I was getting the book soon, he said, “I think it is his best ever.” Red Pine knows whereof he speaks, being the translator of Cold Mountain and Stonehouse. Harrison is up there with the discursive giants of poetry. He has uncovered himself as few poets can do. A true voyager between the inner and outer world of mind. Here’s a sample:

Back Into Memory

The tears roll up my cheek

and the car backs itself south.

I pull away from the girl and reverse

through the door without looking.

In defiance of the body the mind

does as it wishes, the crushed bones

of life reknit themselves in sunlight.

In the night the body melts itself down

to the void before birth

before you swam the river into being.

Death takes care of itself like a lightning

stroke and the following thunder

is the veil being rent in twain.

The will to live can pass away

like that raven colliding with the Sun.

In age we tilt toward home.

We want to sleep a long time, not forever,

but then to sleep a long time becomes forever.

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