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Jeff Whitney

Perpetual Country (Plans)


If the theory holds true, whatever that laughing man

in Girona is doing is part of the plan. 

I like that: plans. A place called Girona. 


Mountains busy with snow. 

The sky full of moons. 


These clouds are not so different than those ones yesterday they move

and pretend they do not move  we move and pretend

it is significant


Bison on the road. 

Bison in the dark.


Seven goats on a hillside

wait. One turns up its head.

A passing truck. The sun

waits or appears to wait.

The child between the arc of a rope

waits. A plane traveling hundreds of feet per minute

waits. The dead have nothing to do

so wait. The dead who are tired. Who find themselves

shuffling toward sea as if it were calling.


And for all we know it is.

And for all we know it isn’t.




Perpetual Country (Fairytale)


This land is not your land

but you can place a pony anywhere.

So the street’s all pony-full. The swimming pool

screams with child-mouths who are themselves

half pony. And the trees won’t quit speaking

their dead-fall language, their fruit-dropped-to-mulch-

dead syllables, dead poems written by cave light, dead

drawings of dead horses and children in the corner

who know the universe is shaped exactly like they dream.

And then there were the buffalo people used to march

off of cliffs, eat the heart of the last to fall. Necessary,

it was thought, the way fire is needed to open

new forests from the difficult fists of seeds,

or suns collapsing to form other, broken things.

There are three thousand eight hundred and seven ways

to sing from the wing of this airplane, and all involve falling.

A glass jar filled with marbles. The whole world turning.

Jeff Whitney poems

Jeff Whitney is the author of The Tree With Lights in it, available from Thrush Press, while Radio Silence (Black Lawrence Press) and Smoke Tones (Phantom Books) were co-written with Philip Schaefer. Other poems of his can be found or found soon in Adroit, Beloit Poetry Journal, Blackbird, Colorado Review, Poetry Northwest, and Verse Daily. He lives in Portland, where he teaches English.  

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