A Cloud Shadow

By this time in the spring
the hillside’s buried green
is mostly resurrected:
a wide and grassy screen
on which is now projected
this dark amorphous thing.

Like some untidy blotch
a giant Holstein shed
from off its hide while grazing—
the thought could fill a head
straining for some amazing
phenomenon to watch.

With the same sight to ponder,
another, though, might think
how Chinese seers would train
rapt eyes on pools of ink
to see the future plain.
Downcast and slow to wander,

On Pleasures of the Game by Austin Allen

Pleasures of the Game
by Austin Allen
Chipping Norton and Baltimore: Waywiser Press, 2016.

Austin Allen’s first collection, the winner of the Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize, has much in it to gratify readers favoring traditional form in verse. It would most likely have appealed to Anthony Hecht, not only for its stylistic polish but for its view of the tenuousness of humanity’s hold on order and happiness in a universe not given to coddling. Order and happiness are nevertheless capable of being found, in the opinion of both poets. Hecht’s final collection was entitled The Darkness and the Light. Allen’s title, Pleasures of the Game, suggests a similar sense of balance, weighing possible enjoyments against the unyielding demands of the rule book, without which the game ceases to exist.