Fanny Howe


Griffin Poetry Prize 2005
International Shortlist

Book: On the Ground

Poet: Fanny Howe

Publisher: Graywolf Press

Click here to read and listen to an excerpt.

Fanny Howe reads from Kneeling Bus

From Kneeling Bus, by Fanny Howe

From Kneeling Bus

Hello air

Infinity is colonizing my mind

It’s as if a cornerstone is familiar
but not the building

It this illness, senility, amnesia, fatigue, wine,
medication or history

diminishing my memory

to the length of a bed?

Friends are often abandoned for passion
That Person walking the path I cut for him

from the elevator
to the hotel bar

His escape occurred
while no one was there to care.

If daily bread extends its quota
of air; and if heaven can’t manage what earth can

If you are 55 degrees below zero and dying
there were no better times left!

When telephone wires are words trying
to be one sound -and the gray flannel sky

blurs on millions while they look forward
and no sense dares return empty

each container creates its fear of portion.

See the icy shape of a cowboy on a mirror?
Animals turned into legends – The Tacky Little Lion

and silver bars
across the doors into the Church of Einstein?

Hail, curved time: ‘This labor camp is my cathedral.’

I couldn’t tell the end
from the beginning
or one side from another
(west on the left?)

But I did seek structure
in a minute.

The models got smaller
the closer they were studied
too close I wiped my eyes
and cried.

This created
a problem for separating
the last impression from
the most ancient.

Two shoes on a curtain
Shadows thicker than a
wax-white stripe.
A floating paper bag
colored rubber
Drop-shaped leaves
and silver lifted
invisible thinking
about terrible nothing:
all in one blow.

If I look up
I see the end bends down
into today’s eternity.

I am no one.
I know hell and have hope.

Let me travel the M11 down to Greystones
with my brother

as happy a soul as he is
and see the silver spears

of towers symbolically
built into the deep dream state.

Let me who? Who will let me?
Whom am I addressing?

Time covered sky
over multiple eyes

A winter city’s

ice is an oyster
inside a pearl.

A slow bus,
a frightened terrorist, a girl –

My church is this machine rolling
the people along and sometimes

my church is a public latrine, sometimes
I drop on my knees and fall

across a chair like a coat in an empty room

Sometimes I whisper help
to interrupt my wheeling brain.

I never learned how to live with a stranger
or an underground train.

Sometimes my church is a Franciscan chapel
near Penn Station. Beads rattle.

People sleep, mutter and curse.

When I leave this bus

a thanks to the driver is to cross and live

From On the Ground, by Fanny Howe
Copyright © 2004 by Fanny Howe


Griffin Poetry Prize 2001
International Shortlist

Book: Selected Poems

Poet: Fanny Howe

Publisher: University of California Press

Click here to read and listen to an excerpt.

Fanny Howe reads Veteran

Veteran, by Fanny Howe


I don’t believe in ashes; some of the others do.
I don’t believe in better or best; some of the others do.
I don’t believe in a thousand flowers or the first robin
of the year or statues made of dust. Some of the others do

I don’t believe in seeking sheet music
by Boston Common on a snowy day, don’t believe
in the lighting of malls seasonably
When I’m sleeping I don’t believe in time
as we own it, though some of the others might

Sad lace on green. Veterans stamping the leafy snow
I don’t believe in holidays
long-lasting and artificial. Some of the others do
I don’t believe in starlings of crenelated wings
I don’t believe in berries, red & orange, hanging on
threadlike twigs. Some of the others do

I don’t believe in the light on the river
moving with it or the green bulbs hanging on the elms
Outdoors, indoors, I don’t believe in a gridlock of ripples
or the deep walls people live inside

Some of the others believe in food & drink & perfume
I don’t. And I don’t believe in shut-in time
for those who committed a crime
of passion. Like a sweetheart
of the iceberg or wings lost at sea

the wind is what I believe in,
the One that moves around each form

© 2000 the Regents of the University of California

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