This month for Poetry 365 we’re highlighting the impressive eleventh book from innovative poet August Kleinzahler. In The Hotel Oneira, the National Book Critics Circle Award winner adopts a mysterious Rod Serling-like persona as he visits his native North Jersey, the snowy battlefields of 19th-century Russia, an American ghost town, and a foggy San Francisco. Amusing and challenging, the dark lyrics and mini-narratives in this 27 poem collection “open doors to surreal, vividly rendered destinations that seem as real as any found in a travel agent’s brochure.” So check out this bold new volume, sample a poem below, and clear your calendar… our National Poetry Month celebration is about to begin.
When the Fog
When the fog burnt off that morning
Outsize JumboTron screens were hanging off the clouds,
Scores of them, huge, acres and acres of screen,
Pixels the size of wagon wheels, damaged, flickering
Off and on, red, blue and green;
Faces, flags, county fairs — like pointillist cartoons,
Melting away, reconstituting:
Crowds, delirious crowds,
Waving drumsticks and banners–
Us whom we’ve been waiting for,
Smearing into vibrating puddles of color,
Then dissolving, like jet exhaust, into the air.
While outside the streets were empty.
Who is to say where everyone has gone?
Only the occasional sound truck, its barked entreaties
Too garbled to make out.
Two scrub jays making a racket in the honey locust.
Sky darkening as weather gathers off the coast.
Quiet as an abandoned summer playhouse.
Russell J. (Readers’ Services)