photo by Peter Berger
Leaving the Tavern
How long should my morning
be? They’ve never known
who I am but
I don’t feel time’s gone too fast
slow enough to fit the spirit in.
Sun brings gold to the right side
of all the people’s faces,
half of the muscles used to smile.
Travelled through, based on a
true story, cliff surface or the cave wall,
how quickly does bamboo grow?
Two inches per hour.
Then after sixty days never grows
in height or diameter again.
A truckload of walnuts
tells the tale of flirtations,
immune from the hazard of rebirth.
Heaven told me/us,
the sky told me
the arch is the dragon’s mouth,
Thursday is orange, Friday is blue,
brick tea, silver and silk.
The heart doesn’t have to fight
gravity to get blood back.
under the floating hip.
Mind your head.
The deer is loose.
Veal ribs in
We have these ingredients.
The head cleared, and then all of a sudden,
the king was an infant,
the peace feelers that were
already being extended,
strong enough to blow the tiles
off the roof of the church.
Donald Berger is the author of The Long Time, a bilingual edition in English and German (Wallstein Publishers); Quality Hill (Lost Roads Publishers), and The Cream-Filled Muse (Fledermaus Press). His work has appeared in The New Republic, Slate, Conjunctions, Colorado Review, Fence, TriQuarterly, The Iowa Review and other magazines including some from Berlin, Leipzig, Budapest, Hong Kong, and mainland China. He teaches at Johns Hopkins University.
“Leaving the Tavern” includes the word “floating,” which is the very word I would use to describe many of Berger’s poems. His poems glide over wondrous landscapes of language and place, offering mysterious information at every turn. To hear him read several other poems, check out these videos: