Eric Pankey

A Memory of Poppies

Like the darkest note a lute sustains
Or the image of fog
An index of emptiness

Condensed on film
Like a single thread picked from a skein
Not the thread so much as the care the dexterity

Of leaving the whole untangled
Like obdurate moonlight
Like a refrain’s insistence

Like windblown snow in a cranny
Or the moment before a movie starts
The small audience

Taking in a breath all at once
Like the polyvalence of a lie
Or a large field sown with sleepiness



A Note to Ungaretti

Obscured as one might say
Of light-fall

Or a distance haze hides
Each note is held

But at a whisper
As when dancers

Take the stage
And the curtain opens

And it is not yet
The first day of creation



Negative Latitudes

The spirits of the dead keep watch
Dark and open
Their eyes dilate absorb the dark

Lit by the black sun’s prime matter
A chthonic journey
Is not without intention or destination

The habit of a body to endure endures
Mute chronic pain
Without name or consolation

Given a map one carries it unfolds it
Consults it although
At these negative latitudes it proves useless


Eric Pankey is the author of twelve collections of poetry, most recently AUGURY (Milkweed Editions 2017).