Fall 1990 • Vol. XII No. 4 PoetryOctober 1, 1990 |

Initial Conditions

The way the sun will slant, breaking through the window of the Uptown Café to light a page from Dickinson or Moore, may pick up the names of America's heroes as they appear on street signs—Lincoln, Lawrence, Franklin, Jefferson, Clay, Washington and Water Streets—to imbue history with artistry, and that, in the spotlight of a metabolic fire born of solitude in the midst of crowds, may flatten the raised fibers of ten blank pages. Black where there was white, and ink where there was water, is the current on which rides the deep guttural imagination of an animal, the ethereal silence of a plant, the indifferent face of stone and dirt and the bittersweet knowledge of a man or woman buried in ecstasy the way light flies from fire. Have your bacon and eggs, have your toast. Simmer again the early pinpricks of sensation: those wordless turns in the amniotic river, the ballooning, the shaping, the reaching, and then the glare, the hands, the separation and all the half-returns and

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Marvin Bell, retired from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, teaches for the low-residency M.F.A. program based at Pacific University in Oregon. He and his wife, Dorothy, live in Iowa City, Iowa, and Port Townsend, Washington. Vertigo: The Living Dead Man Poems appeared in 2011 and After the Fact: Scripts & Postscripts (a collaboration with Christopher Merrill) will be released in 2016.

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Art Shoes

By Marvin Bell

The way the sun will slant, breaking through the window of the Uptown Café to light a page from Dickinson or Moore, may pick up the names of America's heroes […]

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