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Note from the ocean
Author: Claire Barnard
Published on: 5/30/2015 7:20:37 PM

There is a certain pleasure in reading the poetry of a stranger: I don’t know concretely from where she comes, why choose this place to live, and what reason commands her to continue writing poetry, from any place on this globe: from her native land, or from a dusty city, our place can feel peaceful inside truly rare moments, from the sound of a dog barking in a stormfrom a gently blowing Hanoi winter and dim recollections of memories that persist– I read Claire M. Barnard poems during a short stay in Hanoi, a very strange one, and they calmed me for a while, with their simple and seemingly slow world, like the look of a black and white film’s gliding screen, I feel Claire’s slow and tender movements. (And on life’s separate paths:

I love you from the East,
your long flights and gin.
I love you from the West,
your sad ocean bells)

(A Woman Waits For Her Lover After Reading Too Much Pablo Neruda)

Her gentle way is one still full of sentiment, she embraces her own disquietude to carry out one small but intimate thing: regardless of where she lives, she comes back to her own private life, following the intimate ponderings in her head. This stranger writes poetry in such a simple manner as to leave her readers a whole day a little vague, scattered:

one day I will wake
in winter and ask
if you or I
dreamed the snow


-- Nguyen Thuy Hang
-- translated by Kaitlin Rees



note from the ocean

women come along
in the wind I am
beginning to get a sense
of their hair

this one piles cold sand
for a pillow
in her heart
even as she sleeps
one thousand waves crumble

there is moonlit
grief I do not want

waves are what you think
one hundred chariots of grief
and joy

wind comes moving
her hair or the other way
around farther out a man
steps from a boat

his feet the song I have been trying
to remember my whole life
I was hungry

where was the moon?
the moon comes in later

one day a man came to the edge
or farther, your constellation of moods and turns
your lover lifts her hand to your face
like the last light

I am not like a prairie at night
I am hungry

chapter two: I am hungry
where is the moon


A Woman Waits For Her Lover After Reading Too Much Pablo Neruda

I hear your plane:
in galaxies of clear night,
in the small, grey winds of my city.

you are in the clouds.
I can’t imagine what you’re doing.

Come down, let me see
if this weather suits you.

The plane shakes before landing
because it has begun
to love you.

It sighs
down the runway
through a tide of small regrets.

You are close, amor—
I hear the ice click as you surrender
your drink to the attendant.

In the back of the cab
you smoke and stretch
out like a forest.

I love you from the East,
your long flights and gin.
I love you from the West,
your sad ocean bells.


I. Black

by ten the generators go 
I hold my glass in ancient darkness
I reach for a girl and it is Rosie 
her hair a wilderness of smoke
and old voices

listen --
I got six pills
and twenty-five silver dollars

happiness like spring mud 

down at the pier   
we watch our hands
shake like flowers

we should call my brother you know he met a real angel he was stuck on this mountain or maybe Arizona some torn up desert road

and small rocks fall from her
words into the water

the angel knew it was his fault but she fixed his car and gave him
a hundred dollars she was pretty too I bet he stiill has that car

Rosie I cannot think of angels
while these pills sand down the corners
of the stars

but let me stay here with you
on the damp black steps
with the whole wandering
sadness of your heart 


II. Grey

night fell into the water 
and is gone

birds shuffle around
waiting to deliver their lines
as the morning moon looks on
in a wrinkled dress

Rosie the words
have run out

and we seem to be two
empty boxcars rattling
towards the sea

the answer is to work 
in silence

to lift the hour hand
from the pin
and lay the lonely dial aside

to make love like metal parts
tangled in wire
until it is possible to close our eyes
or speak


III. White

highway 41, southbound
Rosie tries to sleep
in the back

I like leaving
two places at once

I don’t mind

I want a minute
alone with this whiskey

with dusk
and its one hundred doors 

the day is behind us
the aching jaw

and there is old piano
music in the low blue hills

a girl who will wake
and tell me of the dark
grace of her dreams 



a dog is up on the bridge
alone panicked
should I help it
should I go

out there
I am tired half-naked
at the window
soft and useless

from my house the city
stretches out sharply
in every direction

the storm drags branches
across the lake
I will not go

my heart wanders down
into its own canyon

as thunder falls
around the dog
like heavy stones