Stanley Plumly

Stanley Plumly
Jesus Wept.
The shortest sentence, I believe, in the New Testament.
Having to do with the raising of  Lazarus, and no less
the crucifixion of  Jesus himself once the Pharisees
realize the power of a voice that can call forth the dead.
Jesus seems to be identifying with this brother of Martha
and Mary, with in fact the whole weeping community.
Take away the stone, Lazarus come forth, and he that was
dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes;
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The Winter Beach at Sanderling
The “wolves in the waves” driving or being driven
inside the rain, which is one sort of day to be alone
in, then again the beach mile either way disappearing
into the thinness of the air, dead detail of the gone world
from the night before—probably an eaten-out barrel
or two, traps and lines of netting, lumber and almost
carcasses and scored horseshoe shells—brought home
from who knows where, then someone with a dog
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Variation on a Line from Elizabeth Bishop’s “Five Flights Up”
Sometimes it’s the shoes, the tying and untying,
the bending of the heart to put them on,
take them off, the rush of blood
between the head and feet, my face,
sometimes, if I could see it, astonished.
Other times the stairs, three, four stages
at the most, “flights” we call them,
in honor of the wings we’ll never have,
the fifth floor the one that kills the breath,
where the bird in the building flies to first.
Love, too, a leveler, a dying all its own,
the parts left behind not to be replaced,
a loss ongoing, and every day increased,
like rising in the night, at 3:00 am,
to watch the snow or the dead leaf fall,
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Off A Side Road Near Staunton
Some nothing afternoon, no one anywhere,
an early autumn stillness in the air,
the kind of empty day you fill by taking in
the full size of the valley and its layers leading
slowly to the Blue Ridge, the quality of country,
if you stand here long enough, you could stay
for, step into, the way a landscape, even on a wall,
pulls you in, one field at a time, pasture and fall
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Like the waxwings in the juniper,
a dozen at a time, divided, paired,
passing the berries back and forth, and by
nightfall, wobbling, piping, wounded with joy.

Or a party of redwings grazing what
falls—blossom and seed, nutmeat and fruit—
made light in the head and cut by the light,
swept from the ground, carried downwind, taken....
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The Foundry Garden
Myths of the landscape—
the sun going down in the mouths of the furnaces,
the fires banked and cooling, ticking into dark, here and there the sudden flaring into roses,
then the light across the long factory of the field, the split and rusted castings,
across the low slant tin roofs of the buildings, across fallow and tar and burnt potato ground. . . .
Everything a little still on fire, in sunlight, then smoke, then cinder,
then the milling back to earth, rich earth, the silica of ash.
The times I can taste the iron in the air, the gray wash like exhaust, smell the burn-off,
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The Marriage in the Trees
When the wind was right everything else
was wrong, like the oak we thought built
better than the house split like a ship
on a rock. We let it stand the winter,
spectral, shagged, every sky its snow,
then cut it down, dismantled it in
pieces like disease. Then limbs from
the yellow poplar broke at will—
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Tree Ferns
They were the local Ohio palm, tropic in the heat of trains.
They could grow in anything—pitch, whole grain,
cinders, ash and rust, the dirt
dumped back of the foundry, what

the men wore home. Little willows,
they were made to be brushed back by the traffic of boxcars
the way wind will dust the shade
of the small part of a river.—They'd
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In the dark we disappear, pure being.
Our mirror images, impure being.

Being and becoming (Heidegger), being and
nothingness (Sartre)—which is purer being?

Being alone is no way to be: thus
loneliness is the test of pure being.

Nights in love I fell too far or not quite
far enough—one pure, one impure being.
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