How Many Poems Might a City Build?


Bruna Mori is a little bit pleasant to look at. Her poems are a little bit pleasant to look at too. What’s the inverse of exaggeration? A diminishment? The previous statements are diminishments. Whatever you think of these proclamations, the poems in Bruna Mori’s most recent book, Dérive (Meritage Press), act in opposition to such inversions: they focus down on the delicate and spotlight the potentials of vision, vision as it is tied to thought and swollen with time’s constant birthing departure, in symbiotic unison. These poems find position within the boroughs of New York City, reminding me of the places I inhabit daily, yearly, for the moment, and sometime otherwise, even not as myself.

This stolen poem from Dérive hums a careful violence that owns our temporality, exploring the necessity of death with eyes wide open, and flickers at my sentiments in “The Good Campaign” – except Mori’s last couplet, in conjunction with a cowboy’s memory and Lilith, makes a way that I envy, with gratitude:



There is fire in the sun.
There is not much sun.

The reality boat of sediment
dances on my infirm sleep.

There is fire in the sun,
I will visit its citizens.

Salt with the slip of llamas,
star of stars,
somber of slumber,

darkness of light
of the vented alms.

Now in the innocent hour,
when without sentences,

in the umbilical cord:
An unremembered poem

has constrained your horse,
has imploded your birds,

has gulped the time
with proper concerns.

Has terminated the self
of which nothing commences.

Rebellion consists in the seeing of
the rose after pulverizing the eyes.

The beloved veterans, enter,

hallucinations with the
pigmented skin of the parrot,

cocoons of memories
devouring their speech,

entering the coffers of citizens,
and speaking to old beasts.

In the hour of the creased land
in the memory of the cowboy,

time pronounces discourse

in the moment of a Lilith.

As someone enters death with eyes open,
another appears in your vision.

The color of time in the abandoned wall.
In my sight, thought parted all.

It’s more than in proximity,
more than near to know what here, was.

–Bruna Mori


And then there is this guy I know – but don’t – that Mori has taken in with this suspended life:



a man on the corner is smoking the man smoking on the corner at the newsstand the man at the corner newsstand is smoking in night smoking at the newsstand is the man on the corner with the fedora on a corner smoking in New York is the man on the corner in the cold see his breath in the cold fedora on a newsstand corner fedora breath on a night in New York corner newsstand with breath of the newsstand breath cigarette fedora warming the night with the newsstand smoke of breath and cigarette illuminated in lamplight of newsstand and the moon fedora in lamplight smoking cigarette and breath warming

–Bruna Mori


Dérive now holds court on my nightstand and is a sturdy addition to my slowly growing “Making the Urban Poetic” syllabus.

I won’t give you more of the book than you already own; just know, from the distance of the virtual, it is a pretty keepsake, lovely in its architecture, easy borders and drift-free, until you hold and open it, wider now …


4 Responses to “How Many Poems Might a City Build?”

  1. Michael Says:
    May 6th, 2007 at 9:32 pm eThe man smoking has the serious melancholy and purpose of an Edward Hopper nocturnal figure, solitary, intent, content.
  2. Lee H. Says:
    May 7th, 2007 at 4:13 pm eThese are great poems, Amy. Thanks for sharing them…
  3. Timothy Caldwell Says:
    May 8th, 2007 at 2:07 am eBeautiful words.
  4. Amy King Says:
    May 9th, 2007 at 4:42 am eMost welcome, Lee and Tim. And Michael!


AMY KING View All →

Amy King is the recipient of the 2015 Winner of the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA) Award. Her latest collection, The Missing Museum, is a winner of the 2015 Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize. She co-edited with Heidi Lynn Staples the anthology Big Energy Poets of the Anthropocene: When Ecopoets Think Climate Change. She also co-edits the anthology series, Bettering American Poetry, and is a professor of creative writing at SUNY Nassau Community College.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: