Mid-phrase line and stanza breaks are just one way that Joseph Wood creates a feeling of moving through archaic symbols toward new life. Mixing alchemy and Christianity on the same poetic canvas, he presents the stunning image of reaching for what lies beyond the “shadowy borderline.”
THE ALCHEMIST’S PRIMA TREATISE
by Joseph P. Wood
Sure, death blackens the crow. Burn the earth
long enough, however, gold will burst forth
& the snow, forever squalling, will no longer be
a verified edition of grief. For now, Apollo’s Bird of
Paradise shit-smears your family’s coat
of arms, & your legs, hitherto intact, burst
into rivers the stillborn drift in sad, long circles.
It’s a shadowy borderline, astrology & the dead
you watch pyramided in the town square.
The cathedral bell tolls like it has
an extra appendage. Christ becomes
a hieroglyph, a tombstone’s rejected epitaph.
Joseph P. Wood‘s first book of poems, I & We, is forthcoming from CustomWord Editions in November 2010. He is currently an instructor of English and Creative Writing at University of Alabama, and he serves as an editor for the newly launched Slash Pine Press and coordinator of the Slash Pine Poetry Festival. He lives with his wife, Amy Dayton-Wood, and his 2 year old daughter Daisy.
Katherine Sanders is an intern at BOMB Magazine.
For more from Miriam Brummer, check out her work at Pierogi Flat Files.