Books

Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

Archeology of the Circle

New and Selected Poems

by Bruce Weigl

“Few poets of any generation have written so searingly into of the trauma of war, inscribing its wound while refusing the fragile suture of redemption. Here is the haunted utterance of diasporic selfhood, a poetry of aftermath and consequence, an answer to the call for an ethos of infinite obligation. In this, and in the breadth of his accomplishment, Bruce Weigl is one of the most important poets of our time.” –Carolyn Forch”, author of The Country Between Us and The Angel of History

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 240
  • Publication Date April 19, 1999
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-3607-7
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $12.00
  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Publication Date December 01, 2007
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-9519-7
  • US List Price $12.00

About The Book

With Song of Napalm, Bruce Weigl established himself as a poet of incomparable power and lyric fury, whose work stands as an elegy to the countless lives dramatically altered by war. Archeology of the Circle brings together the major work of one of America’s greatest poets. Collected here for the first time from eight volumes of poetry and spanning two decades, Archeology of the Circle also includes Weigl’s most recent poems, which take a dramatic turn toward a hard-bitten and sensuous lyric. Out of the horror of individual experience, Bruce Weigl has fashioned poetry that offers solace to disillusionment and bears transcendent resonance for all of us. Archeology of the Circle illustrates Bruce Weigl’s remarkable creative achievements and signifies his own personal and spiritual salvation through his writing.

Praise

“Few poets of any generation have written so searingly into of the trauma of war, inscribing its wound while refusing the fragile suture of redemption. Here is the haunted utterance of diasporic selfhood, a poetry of aftermath and consequence, an answer to the call for an ethos of infinite obligation. In this, and in the breadth of his accomplishment, Bruce Weigl is one of the most important poets of our time.

” –Carolyn Forch”, author of The Country Between Us and The Angel of History

“A sorrow that is painfully keen yet also aware of what is beautiful; a largeness of spirit that is filled with both hard memories and forgiveness; a sense of form and proportion that can hold still, for the incomparable moment of the poem, the most violent movement; and such intense attention to love, loneliness, compassion, sex, suffering, exaltation–what priceless extraordinary gifts Bruce Weigl has carried to us in these poems!” –Reginald Gibbons, author of Sparrow: New and Selected Poems and Sweetbitter

“Bruce Weigl’s new collection, Archeology of the Circle, is a treasure of wonderful simplicity and complex beauty. The directness of tone and line are deeply satisfying in everyday language raised to the level of art. In stark, short lines Weigl delivers brick-hard images that are tough and honest. I feel renewed through these poems for these reasons, and because Weigl never forgets the paradox of joy and grief at the crux of the human condition.” –Clarence Major, author of Configurations: New and Selected Poems 1958-1998

“Bruce Weigl’s Archeology of the Circle balances flesh against spirit. His Poems depict the positive and negative within the human arena, blessing and curse along slide each other, and he doesn’t let us forget our debts to the living and the dead. Triumphs and failures are witnessed here. Basic truths are unearthed through this delicate confrontation. There’s a disquieting loneliness at the root of this poetry, but also an elation woven into the lit muscle of being alive at the end of the twentieth century. Archeology of the Circle is sex and music, history and personal pathos, the earthy and the ethereal, the living and the imagined, and there’s a singing here that connects everything within the circle of our lives. Hard and tender-hearted, these wonderful poems are gifts to the present and the future–voices that have fallen into the one song of witness. Through the art of blessing and questioning, Bruce Weigl’s fine collection plots the journey of the artist as seer and citizen.” –Yusef Komunyakaa, author of Thieves of Paradise

Excerpt

Chapter One


    PIGEONS


There’s a man standing
in a coop,
his face is wet,
he says he’s too old:
“You can’t give them away
they just come back.”
I follow him to the cellar.
Latin blessings on the wall,
sauerkraut in barrels,
he puts his arm around my waist
begins to make a noise,
pigeons bleeding.
We’re both crying now
he moves his tongue around
pulls feathers from his coat.
A fantail he says,
the kind that hop around,
don’t fly well.


    MINES


    1

In Vietnam I was always afraid of mines:
North Vietnamese mines, Vietcong mines,
American mines,
whole fields marked with warning signs.


A bouncing betty comes up waist high–
cuts you in half.
One man’s legs were laid
alongside him in the Dustoff:
he asked for a chairback, morphine.

He screamed he wanted to give
his eyes away, his kidneys,
his heart …


    2

  

    MONKEY


    1

I am you are he she it is
they are you are we are.
I am you are he she it is
they are you are we are.
When they ask for your number
pretend to be breathing.
Forget the stinking jungle,
force your fingers between the lines.
Learn to get out of the dew.
The snakes are thirsty.
Bladders, water, boil it, drink it.
Get out of your clothes:
You can’t move in your green clothes.
Your O.D. in color issue clothes.
Get out the damp between your legs.
Get out the plates and those who ate.
Those who spent the night.
Those small Vietnamese soldiers.
They love to hold your hand.
A fine man is good to hard.


Back away from their dark cheeks.
Small Vietnamese soldiers.
They love to love you.
I have no idea how it happened,
I remember nothing but light.


    2

I don’t remember the hard
swallow of the lover.
I don’t remember the burial
of ears.
I don’t remember the time
of the explosion.
This is the place curses are
manufactured: delivered like
white tablets.
The survivor is spilling his bed pan.
He slips one in your pocket,
you’re finally satisfied.
I don’t remember the heat
in the hands,
the heat around the neck.
Good times bad times sleep
get up work. Sleep get up
good times bad times.
Work eat sleep good bad work times.


I like a certain cartoon of wounds.
The water which refuses to dry.
I like a little unaccustomed mercy.
Pulling the trigger is all we have.
I hear a child.


    3

I dropped to the bottom of a well.
I have a knife.
I cut someone with it.
Oh, I have the petrified eyebrows
of my Vietnam monkey.
My monkey from Vietnam.
My monkey.
Put your hand here.
It makes no sense.
I beat the monkey with a sword.
I didn’t know him.
He was bloody.
He lowered his intestines
to my shoes. My shoes
spit-shined the moment
I learned to tie the bow.
I’m not on speaking terms
with anyone. In the wrong climate
a person can spoil,
the way a pair of boots
slows you down …


I don’t know when I’m sleeping.
I don’t know if what I’m saying
is anything at all.
I’ll lay on my monkey bones.


    4

I’m tired of the rice falling
in slow motion like eggs from
the smallest animal.
I’m twenty-five years old,
quiet, tired of the same mistakes,
the same greed, the same past.
The same past with its bleat
and pound of the dead,
with its hand grenade tossed
into a hooch on a dull Sunday
because when a man dies like that
his eyes sparkle,
his nose fills with witless nuance
because a farmer in Bong Son
has dead cows lolling
in a field of claymores
because the vc tie hooks
to their comrades
because a spot of blood
is a number
because a woman
is lifting her dress across
the big pond …


If we’re soldiers we should smoke them
if we have them. Someone’s bound
to point us in the right direction
sooner or later.


    I’m tired and I’m glad you asked.


    5

There is a hill.
Men run top hill.
Men take hill.
Give hill to man.

*

Me and my monkey
and me and my monkey
my Vietnamese monkey
my little brown monkey
came with me
to Guam and Hawaii
in Ohio he saw
my people he
jumped on my daddy
he slipped into mother
he baptized my sister
he’s my little brown monkey
he came here from heaven
to give me his spirit imagine
my monkey my beautiful
monkey he saved me lifted


me above the punji
sticks above the mines
above the ground burning
above the dead above
the living above the
wounded dying the wounded
dying above my own body
until I am me.

*


Men take hill away from smaller men.
Men take hill and give to fatter man.
Men take hill. Hill has number.
Men run up hill. Run down hill.


Copyright ” 1999 by Bruce Weigl.  Reprinted with permission from Grove Atlantic, Inc.  All rights reserved.

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