Autumn Song

The sky ends
where the gulls dive;
they fly as far as they can.

I watch for a while
until at seven
the neighbors start their hammering.

You are best
in the dawn’s surmise—
you draw your legs to your chest.

Willow-worn,
the swallows cross
the blue once more and vanish.

Ending the Residency

Our seasonal thermometer,
the mast, wobbles,
gauging the time of year
by the cooling seawater,

while at three and four
the foghorn follows,
bleating off the intervals
of the dawn’s revival.

Dozing, half awake,
I go back to the house
off Wynnewood Road
where the fire bell’s crouch

still waits in the closet.
Something else comes back:
it’s days before we moved out.
As a teenage prank,

or genuine theft,
someone breaks in.
My sister comes downstairs
and surprises him;

he sees her, panics,
escapes with a copy
of my Penguin edition
of Les Mis. She stands

A New Chapter: Noah Warren’s The Complete Stories

The Complete Stories
by Noah Warren
(Copper Canyon, 2021, 96 pp. $16)

The title of Noah Warren’s new volume of poems, The Complete Stories, suggests several different ways of understanding the book. First, it informs us about the kind of poetry Warren writes: a poetry that tells stories about personal experience, knits them together with fragments from multiple generations, and unsettles this composite story with a rigorous skepticism about narrative credibility. Toward this task, Warren writes within a diverse set of poetic subgenres, many of them narrative: the prose poem with its anecdotal logic; the collage of fragments bound together by a single, searching mind; the rarefied, lyric drama of the extended moment of perception. Joining these favored forms are “Letter,” a Richard Howard-esque dramatic monologue, and the title track, “The Complete Stories,” a chatty metropolitan party-poem. (There are a couple scattered outliers, too, such as “Two By Two,” which anchors its rhyming couplets to a triple-meter backbone.) The aesthetic question The Complete Stories raises is: In what ways can a short poem tell a story, and what does that partial story leave out?