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Paperback ISBN: 1-882295-35-8


Selected Poem

Ere Long

Who would awaken from the bright means—

from an idleness inside the havoc of August
into the slack gutturals of autumn harnessing
everything at its vanishing point—
and be seen catching each fluctuation at the moment
we want to inhabit it

only to inherit the vacancy at the center of a promise?
What watermark, what chime or thistle might draw out
this pain, binding me to...
Barley water, and sheaves, are things I'd bring her
(as she awakened among birds with hidden wings)
and would I find, in the measure of those pinioned
wings, the whole form of desire?

Statue, feather, summons (stain the ground red
with ocher to stimulate a fast rebirth—)
And woods are in the asking: I ate from the timbrel,
I drank from the cymbal, I carried the kernos,
I passed beneath the pastos.
Petitions, celebrants, initiates, Eleusis—
***
And then I walked after the summer's surge
along the spillway, along the channel dug,
along the possible horizontal sea floor, in the luxury
of long, exposed fractures. I watched people getting them
on film with hand held cameras—concentrating on
the stresses in the brittle sedimentary strata—

seeing in the once soft limestone the abundant
and the preserved (hexagenaria, crinoids) that accumulation
(calcium carbonate) in one afternoon,

in an hour (irregular compaction) loosed

and flooded with what the corrupted structure reveals:
the vanishing point of soil, in a few minutes,
(atonal stutter) and fossils, here in their double continuation
(formed) (seen), in the washing away
that's become the visible temperate.
***
After the water, I heard her atoms in me,
diffuse, in my body. I thought of this (at the time) as belief—
the molecules stilling in me, as fast as the inaudible—
a trace of her voice.

And I would that she reached us, each of us, this way, after,
making me entire in my waiting
as I was taken, in that moment, by her progress through

the interrupted promise—

where she begins again in me
at my vanishing point, in my idleness

by the river, near its justice, its ashen means—

Sea Gate


“. . .poetry that modulates between the language of migration and weather, and the abstract vectors of sign, iteration, desire, and erasure.”
Oyster Boy Review

“Jocelyn Emerson’s densely lyrical, highly cerebral poetry mixes a concern with the fluid boundaries of the self and an evident infatuation with the languages of science and natural description. Her recurrent themes of natural mass and process and their representation are offered by the poems in Sea Gate as intermingled, interdependent phenomena equally worthy of the poet’s close attention, and equally problematic in the demands they place on poetic language. Their insistent embodiment in images of the sea and the coastline offer a sustained geography of the author’s poetic imagination, a mapping of experience onto desire.”
Cold Mountain Review

“In Sea Gate, the world swings very wide. Earth and Sky, and the masses of earth and sky, present themselves in spoken musculature and lucid phosphorescence. They are flowers, too, and, as Jocelyn Emerson so boldly avows, they are also you and I.”
—Donald Revell

“Attending to both John Clare and to Emmanuel Levinas, Sea Gate advances gracefully the project of recent American poets who have sought through poetry to know this world, this universe, its traces and living engagements: ‘And the stellar breeze of a misnamed / phenomenon can be seen well / in a nebula’s cast-off shroud.’ Reasserting a dialogue between truth and beauty, Jocelyn Emerson has given us renewed grandeur and consolation.”
—Bin Ramke

“Jocelyn Emerson is one of the most talented poets of our shared generation, a writer for whom mind and music are one. Her rich, visionary work draws on Dickinson’s obliquity and abrupt surprise, Stevens’ palpable embodiments of idea, and Hart Crane’s raptures of language (not to mention his infatuation with the sea) to create something utterly new, a poetry of glittering surfaces and nearly hermetic density in which the dark whistles and the ash sings, and momentarily the charred and broken are made whole. Sea Gate is a luminous book, dazzling as sunlight on churned water.”
—Reginald Shepherd

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