Vanishing Horizon by Gerry LaFemina



The Vanishing Horizon is full of gritty and graceful intelligence. Consistently and sumptuously detailed, these poems amount to a kind of landscape of the soul, that aspect of self that runs the gauntlet -- weathers, wearies, kneels -- then grins and keeps on. It’s hard to make a way in this world, to see clearly without coming to deep despair. This book is good light. -- Tim Seibles, author of Buffalo Head Solos


Returning Home in the MG Just Before Dawn

The last rags of cloud have dispersed
displaying the harvest moon's mandala burnished, 
but seeming as far away
                                          as a saxophone

a friend retired four years ago,
the one she sometimes pulls from the closet -- not to play,
but rather to hear the reedy echo of song 
lodged in its long esophagus.

Imagine that song is a hymn.
Imagine it is sung by a famished cat on the front porch.

Imagine it's sung by vibrations of the last struck chord
on that stand-up piano shoved in grandmother's living room corner;

sung by the engine at 4000 RPM;
sung by the grackle right before dawn.

How soon I return to the rind of this world -- 
the misgivings of sparrows & neighbor kids who wake
with my arrival; the lawn laminated with dew;

my house barren, shut down like a stage 
but for the porch light

which brightens a spider's safety net 
stretched tightly between two skeletal limbs of birch


After Reading Rexroth I Step Outside

Low moon tonight & nearly full.
See how it illuminates the alien bodies of mushrooms
colonizing the weedy lawn. They're a surprise after six weeks
of near drought, delivered, no doubt,
                                                                 by the drizzle that followed --

their fibrous necks lifting up their heads so they seem to look
in wonder. There was that time

I went morel hunting with a woman I thought I loved;
we carried two plastic grocery bags
& a blanket & lunch.
                                       We spent our morning searching
around the bases of birch & pine,
& by the area, also, where fire had created a richness of soil.

I had thought maybe we'd find some mushrooms, eat lunch,
& then make love on that blanket,
the smell of moist nature -- of decay & growth --
surrounding us
                         & thus that ground would be consecrated.

But we were confounded
to find, at first, the bones of what we believed to be
a large animal, some ribs & vertebrae,

&, excited by our discovery, we dug around till we found
the long femur of what was most likely a young child,
a handful of metatarcels.
                                                  How she drew in her breath
-- a slight, high-pitched whistle.

The flesh, of course, was gone -- who knows how long
the body had rotted in the rotten earth. 
The police arrived inevitably; inevitably,

we had to retrace our steps back to that place
a mile from a state highway
                                                    where she had laid the blanket
above the remains & held it firm with rocks
as if such a gesture could make a difference.

All that first night she wept & shivered, & 
there was no comforting her, 
                                                    for who could sleep

with milky light filling our bare windows in that way.

Add To Cart