Introducing: Ronnie Yates

Residency dates: June 24-30, 2013

Ronnie Yates studied at the University of Houston, Harvard Divinity School, and received his MFA in Creative Writing (Poetry) from NYU. His poems have appeared in Colorado Review, POOL and Ploughshares, and his MS, Inconsolable Garden, was a finalist for the 2012 Emily Dickinson First Book Award (offered by the Poetry Foundation and Graywolf Press). He has been awarded residencies at the Atlantic Center for the Arts and the Jentel Artist’s Residency Program. Along with the habit of “following” poems that allow language to express its own desire (Breton), he has a keen interest in conceptual/neo-conceptual art practice, and his own current practice includes cultivating collaborative relationships with both visual and neo-conceptual artists, as well as with (both idiomatic and non-idiomatic) musical performers/improvisers/composers. His most recent project was a multi-media composition/performance, created in collaboration with the composer Paul Connolly, investigating the relationship between revolutionary politics and avant-garde music compositional techniques and strategies. He currently teaches in the IART program at the University of Houston/The Mitchell Center for the Arts.


But there comes a time when you’ve forgotten your life, and all

you ever do is awaken, and then its Heaven, Heaven, Heaven, the

Burden of flowers all the time, and flowers are given to thieving. . .


                                                                                                ~Donald Revell

Let the dead bury the dead

All in one imaginary accord,

My mind steps out of old news

And into the rainbow colors

Ringed round a Pacific moon. It’s not my imagination

Wandering among the houses once more

Waiting to be born. The hospitals full, the taxi driver

Better than America speeds me home

To helplessness, to my death forgotten. I close one eye

And one tree becomes another. I open it

And close the other and Paul Cezanne breaks the window glass

Leaving the empty skies of my childhood

On the later canvases. The eye is proliferation. I mean one tree

Becomes numberless. Black tree, moon white.

One will never sleep. And I’m the other.


Mary abandoned to the delectable horses,

Heavenly offering, a pleasant alone

And horse glory of heat, like a circus at bedtime

Next door compensated by morning when

Wedding girls scatter white shards, each

An edifice, of pure sounds written beneath chiding.

Unmapped judgments famishing protest, but an accident

Still alive and entire to us, the small-time operators

Of matinees and flowers. Nothing finished

Nor bird hurried. The eastern sky a leaf fire

Stuttering higher between disused skins

Advertising wreckage and windows, like an airport

In a museum. The horses fled higher, no brighter

Than the plain purpose of every element,

A grace gone hurt and wandering.

My Father’s Sorrow (Into which the world goes)

Death always means never

To the shepherd’s hand. A morning path

Cool among the glassy trees

Blanched sun white then painted over

By murder. At night, a man flies far

Above a wedding photograph. By day

Gradually green things amaze, empty and glad

As the music of real flowers placed on a grave

To forgive God come out of hiding

In the trees to alight, exhausted,

Even on the hawk’s wing. One Easter night,

Beyond saving, a rabbit died,

Chased by no dog but my father’s sorrow

Over all the starving children, a hawk’s wing

All the same, in the photograph married to skittish

Blowing morning painted sunshine

And a prayer for rain.

The Last Hurrah

I couldn’t see the sun

For the sun shining hard and fast,

I couldn’t taste the wind

For the bit of salt in it. Wind

Says Bird to the valley. Salt

Is what wind learns from stone.

They make a mountain for the weather. A rock

And snow wing blown across a blue sky

Made just this instance for it

To roam. Deer come out of the forests

To announce the afterlife. They graze on blades

Of light. Rumps flare white in the last of the sun.

In this life all my days

Fall like trees. But in the afterlife

The grass will run with gods

Unlike men.

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