Life Watch

by Willis Barnstone

Willis Barnstone’s Life Watch is an ambitious sequence of poems that begins in childhood and moves through Barnstone’s adult years and back again to youth. The poetic forms he advances also circle — free verse, couplets, sonnets and prose poems. The poems engage and reflect on the civil wars in Greece, China and Argentina that the author found himself in the midst of, as well as time spent in a Mexican orphanage, the cafes and arts salons in Paris and with Borges walking the streets of Buenos Aires. As the circles of these poems widen they gather many perspectives on a life watched — time slowed, time stopped and time accelerated, the nature of our inner weather and the mystery of loss.



"Willis Barnstone has been appointed a special to bring 'the other' to our attention, to show how it is done. He illuminates the spirit for us and he clarifies the unclarifiable. . . I think he does it by beating his wings." —Gerald Stern


If I had not been a half-ass scholar (in Indonesia

        the taxi driver called me guru),

I think homeless would be a proper job for me.

I follow the way now from month to month,

changing beds.  I don't want to be a vagrant

yet you see me going out, hopping from door to door,

asking alms, a stranger at home

with blank windows in a desolate neighborhood

where I stroll in light too bright to raise my eyes

above the children's hopscotch chalky on the sidewalk,

their drawings grinning at my happy ruin.

© BOA Editions, Ltd 2003

Available editions:
ISBN: 1-929918-36-4
Price: $13.95
Publishing Date: August 2003



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