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. . .
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