Dogwood blossoms drift down at evening
as semis pound past Phoenix Seafood
and the Savarin plant, west to the Turnpike,
Paterson or hills beyond.
The adulterated, pearly light and bleak perfume
of benzene and exhaust
make this solitary tree and the last of its bloom
as stirring just now after another day
at the hospital with Mother and the ashen old ladies
lost to TV reruns flickering overhead
as that shower of peach blossoms Tu Fu watched
fall on the river bank
from the shadows of the Jade Pavilion,
while ghosts and the music
of yellow orioles found out the seam of him
and slowly cut along it.
‘Watching Dogwood Blossoms Fall in a Parking Lot Off Route 46’ is excerpted from Sleeping It Off in Rapid City.
Chosen for FSG Poetry Month by Garth Greenwell.
August Kleinzahler published his first book of poetry, A Calendar of Airs, in 1978. Since then, he has published seven others. In 2003, Farrar, Straus and Giroux published The Strange Hours Travelers Keep, which won the 2004 Griffin International Poetry Prize. His most recent collection of poetry, Sleeping It Off in Rapid City, won the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award. He is also the author of two books of prose, Cutty, One Rock: Low Characters and Strange Places, Gently Explained (FSG, 2004) and Music: I-LXXIV (Pressed Wafer, 2009), and the winner of the 2008 Lannan Literary Award for Poetry. A native of Fort Lee, New Jersey, Kleinzahler currently lives in San Francisco.