Richard Deming

Winner of the Norma Farber First Book Award in 2009

Annus Mirabilis


One day when there is no breath, thus no longer song
no incantatory, forgiving algebra for the open window
                                                and the wind,
                                                          and the wasps stirring along the sill
                                                          in late March.

                                                          Not cinder, not smoke, and what all
                                                          else that will

                                                          not be there. No more.
Is it enough, then, to glimpse another's
reflection in a picture window backed by night,
lit by Chilean wine and soft voices?
                         The melon's syrup slicks someone's
cheek; a napkin thick with the scent
                                              of currants and folded in thirds
                         falls to the floor.

Outside, the lawn furniture levitates above
                         the sleepy eyes of mute animals led astray.
No other world but this. This.

Martha Ronk on Richard Deming

Let's Not Call It Consequence contains poems of restless thinking as the speaker wrestles with the mysteries of both small matters and great tragedy. They are intelligent, original, and highly crafted and keep one tracking lines that maneuver through specifics of the world ("the cold pear atop the formica table") and the fictionalizing that sustains and deludes: "Say/ it is winter, and through the snow/ a dark figure—a man—crosses/ a bridge between you and there." Or the repeated use of "let's" that pulls in the reader, as in Let's Not Call It Consequence. They are written out of anxiety, insomnia, disappointment; yet the vivid singularity of things works to shift the thinking that always undergirds the poem at hand: autumn leaves, cast-off shoes, stones thrown from the 5th Ave. bridge ("The Logic of Green"). Deming's language is so engaging that readers feel literally caught in its permutations and fragility: "it's difficult, some-/ times to know/ how one/ means." At the center of this book is the language out of which we try to think (including that of other poets):

Night's out of joint
and with the incessant
                    din of insomnia, reason's a dog to kennel.

How to be disinterred from nothing.

                    If only
this thinking thing thought thoughts only

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