Conjunctions:40 40x40

Four Poems
The following appears with three additional Swensen poems in Conjunctions:40.
The Invention of the Night-Watch

Is defined as that which walks                it’s in all the books-Psalms,
                                     the ones with all the pictures
of men walking at night.      A legion of staves, and etched
onto the leaves: what here I have witnessed

some blind world of the blind
beneath a torch
held in a sheaf
on which said eye and yes.
                       On which said light is fixed,
                                                 while in the molten light they stood

                       on corners all night long as the bell-bearers stalked abroad
and what you thought was a tolling of the hours you were counting was
in fact an encoded reporting of events: theft, murder, fire, wolf, circle
is worthy of attention, is

and thus were we eaten. 1385.     There’s a light that lists toward each en
                                                       route to heaven and we follow the folding
                                                       screens. Between seven and sixteen 
                                                       bodies a night were collected off the
                                                       streets of Paris from the thirteenth
                                                       through the seventeenth centuries and
                                                       several more from the Seine.
                                                       Who counted in his sleep
counted his sleep;
who took a walk after dark, I have a friend
in the world

The author of many volumes of poetry, Cole Swensen is the founding editor of La Presse Books. She coedited the Norton anthology American Hybrid and guest-edited the first annual Best American Experimental Writing (Omnidawn). Her collections include On Walking On and Landscapes on a Train (both Nightboat Books)A former Guggenheim Fellow, she has won the Iowa Poetry Prize and the PEN USA Award in translation, among others. She teaches at Brown University.