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Sunday Poetry with David O'Meara

Sunday Poetry with David O'Meara

By Coach House Date: April 22, 2022

Welcome back to Sunday Poetry! Today we have David O'Meara discussing "I Replace Korotki at the Weather Station on the Barents Sea" from his latest collection, Masses on Radar



            I Replace Korotki at the Weather Station on the Barents Sea


It will stay like this:


filigreed with frost, windows

brim in each retina.

They glom on mute noon’s

plum horizon

above snow and shelf edge.


It glows to Svalbard, gets grey,

with no foghorn.


Purse seine. Pelagic trawl.


Bejewelled with

an auroral side ridge,


spawn in shore sand,

                        flaunt larval drift

and a catch rule.


Alone is only

                        no one else now.

Near grass flats, I float a dory punched

with rivets

and scrape mud from treads

on the bucktails,

                        bunched collar in my fist, puffing

the balance of a tobacco ration.


Now I row, no oarlock

and prepared for lag, a scruffy speck

                        lording over the landspit.


On duckboards of permafrost,

across sedge and tundra grass,

in hip boots, I heave

a tidal marker to shore. Bergs


stall in the opal monochrome.

It stays like so,

all squint


and radar, January gust spanking

the back window. I write my life is wind

and post the note

to nowhere


until summer’s supply ship

swans through sea ice.


Everything accrues.

I didn’t come here hoping.


I called for certain information.


The snowsquall

hallucinates me; its horizontal

crosshatch of low pressure


flails over kindling,

a shovel,

            dog grave and a dark barn


riding out the epoch.


“I love all waste / And solitary places,” Shelley wrote, “where we taste / The pleasure of believing what we see / Is boundless, as we wish our souls to be.” Me, too. So I loved a haunting, gorgeous photo-essay by Evgenia Arbugaeva I saw in The New Yorker (“Weather Man”). Google it, please. It documents Vyacheslaw Korotki, a meteorologist, as he goes about his daily, and nightly, routine at a remote peninsular outpost on the Barents Sea. The occasional time I’m asked to teach, I profess the power of the image as bedrock to poetry and art, wherein we think and imagine most essentially. Korotki’s experience is, to me, an image of consciousness navigating space, awed, even bored. What is it about solitary places? Less distracted, we face our essentials. Wherever we look, we can’t turn away. Existence. I want to offer it via language, unexpected and seemingly strange. Purse seine. Larval drift. Bucktail. If poetry swings between images, metaphor is a hammock, connecting them through comparison. I like to climb into that, and inhabit the tension.