Reginald Gibbons

Three Poems
June 24, 2016 Gibbons Reginald

Three Poems


In the rainy sub-

tropics of my child-

hood, horse latitudes

of dreams, of handmade

wishes, I would try

to dream of snow-fields.

But they failed to be-

come real as I lay

on my sweaty sheet

after we’d all been

outside late among

the invisible

heat-giants trampling

the unbreathable

dusk. The sun, gone down

behind the china-

berry trees of our

gunman back neighbor,

had left on the mute

bulging stratosphere

its faint pledge never

to fail us. I wished

and imagined it

would fail us just once,

give me a chance, I’d

take our one horse, ride

in the broad midday

darkness far away.




I remember that

our hell-hot pear tree,

so southerly, so

dark-green-minded, held

with a negative


up that logic, so

logy with summer

Logos that it bore

small fruit which refused

to ripen; if plucked

from those green anti-


branches, it cooked up

into a grainy

pear-pap tasting of

nothing, not even

threats or promises.

Surely not Eden.






The Cretan sky’s too

bright for human eyes,

near the empty road

on gust-beaten high-

lands, an old stone wind-

mill, abandoned, with-

out vanes, defends, like

a ghost fortress of

memory, all the


myths and history

here and in the sea—

gone into the past

tense that time perfects.


Here’s a chance for us:

we can elude the

way our usual

hour’s saturated

by so much we did

not want to be ours.


The black opening

of a missing door

calls us in. For a

buzzing moment we

see very little.

Dark scent of honey—

faint, from acacia

and flowering thyme.

Thin gold blades of sky

piercing gaps of lost

mortar; a bee swarm,

growling, drowsy, is

swaying in the air,

far from sweet sources,

swarm of a goddess—

deathless refugee,

one who long ago

abandoned her bees—


droning with choral

voice their sephonay,

sephonay. Confused

with them, we under-

stand them—still mourning

their lost one, their lost

all. And who or what

will come to warrant

her existence now?

Word-sounds that want to

think their way forward,

interweaving and

hovering, humming,

almost resolve in

our ears. The windmill,

abyss of wonder

filled with our dizzy

longing to see, to

have back—sephonay!

life-wise, those we have

lost, those we will lose.

(While we’re still living,

let me kiss you now.)

Reginald Gibbons is a poet, fiction writer, translator, and literary critic. His Creatures of a Day was a Finalist for the National Book Award in poetry. His most recent poems will be published in October 2016 by University of Chicago Press in Last Lake (which includes the three poems in this issue of Plume). In 2017 he will publish a book of very short fiction with BOA Editions, Ltd. With the Russian poet Ilya Kutik, he is co-translating poems by Boris Pasternak, Marina Tsvetaeva, Osip Mandelshtam and others. He’s on the Content Leadership Team of the American Writers Museum (, which will open in 2017 in Chicago, and is a Frances Hooper Professor of Arts and Humanities at Northwestern University.