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As the resident poet at EcoHealth, my verse finds inspiration these days in the specter of future pandemics. For my dissertation at LMU's Amerika-Institut, I'm anatomizing the poetics (especially the prosody) of E. A. Robinson's sonnets. I also teach at Münchner Volkshochschule and lead the Amerikahaus Literary Circle.

20150607

Constancy

by Joseph Brodsky


Constancy is an evolution of one’s living quarters into
a thought: a continuation of a parallelogram or a rectangle
by means—as Clausewitz would have put it—
of the voice and, ultimately, the gray matter.
Ah, shrunken to the size of a brain-cell parlor
with a lampshade, an armoire in the “Slavic
Glory” fashion, four studded chairs, a sofa,
a bed, a bedside table with
little medicine bottles left there standing like
a kremlin or, better yet, manhattan.
To die, to abandon a family, to go away for good,
to change hemispheres, to let new ovals
be painted into the square—the more
volubly will the gray cell insist
on its actual measurements, demanding
daily sacrifice from the new locale,
from the furniture, from the silhouette in a yellow
dress; in the end—from your very self.
A spider revels in shading especially the fifth corner.
Evolution is not a species’
adjustment to a new environment but one’s memories’
triumph over reality, the ichthyosaurus pining
for the amoeba, the slack vertebrae of a train
thundering in the darkness, past
the mussel shells, tightly shut for the night, with their
spineless, soggy, pearl-shrouding contents.

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

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