Tuesday Poem: ‘Landscape in Graphite on Paper, 3x3x3’ by Sam Rasnake

1. Clinch Mountain

He always wanted that long drive up Clinch Mountain
where the thick quilts of trees would bend to
hawk in cloud, the road, a hard gash of

stone and time to the wind, with its slow,
steady rumble of tires on asphalt, and far below,
the soft patchworks of farm, river, town – a twist

of the Norfolk Southern and 58, smaller than dream,
smaller than dust. This is my life, he would
say. The arriving – never as good as the going.
 – 1974

2. Outer Banks

After a night of winter rain, when the morning’s
deep voice of high tide booms the grey sea –
a relentless Bergman film – to wake the heavy, sunless

sky over stiff tangles of jagged shore with only
the occasional pelican or tern in a cold trough
of long wave to follow – and me, beside an

opened upstairs window, my cup steaming on the table –
one hand to the glass, and with the other
I write, “a view as wide as gifted song”…
– 1999

3. Yamada Rōshi Says, “Even the sky must be beaten”

A blue without fracture, blue that is lost – like
the song playing – its rhythm of such blue ache
in her fingers’ rub of steel and wood to

darkness. Blue in this pen as I write, blue
on the cover of James Merrill’s Night and Day.
The poet is dead – still his words breathe when

I tongue them aloud in my truck, driving west –
but my truck is red. Everything falls away. I’d
thought the sky to be empty. I was wrong.
– 2007

This poem was first published at 52|250, May 2011.

Sam Rasnake’s works, receiving five nominations for the Pushcart Prize, have appeared in OCHO, Wigleaf, > kill author, Big Muddy, BLIP: The New Mississippi Review, Literal Latté, Poets / Artists, fwriction : review, MiPOesias, Portland ReviewThe Southern Poetry AnthologyBest of the Web 2009BOXCAR Poetry Review Anthology 2Dogzplot Flash Fiction 2011 and Lost Children. His latest collections are Lessons in Morphology (GOSS183) and Inside a Broken Clock (Finishing Line Press). He also edits Blue Fifth Review, an online journal of poetry, flash and art, and is chapbook editor for Sow’s Ear Poetry Review. He has also served as a judge for the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize, University of California, Berkeley.

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4 Responses to Tuesday Poem: ‘Landscape in Graphite on Paper, 3x3x3’ by Sam Rasnake

  1. Berit says:

    One of my favorites of Sam’s.

    “The arriving – never as good as the going.”

    Thank you for reminding me about this poem.

  2. Sam Rasnake says:

    Thanks, Michelle. Thanks for the good words, Berit.

  3. Yep, I’m glad to have a reason to share this one again. I love that line too, Berit. And the whole third part gets me every time.

  4. Susan Tepper says:

    Exquisite poem. Sam Rasnake never forgets the land, the landscape.

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