Two Poems The Offending Adam / by Ken Taylor

116.1: Ken Taylor:: black mountain & poem for tuba & trombone                    116

New Writing

After checking out Ken Taylor’s website, I can’t shake the feeling that his poetry and his pastels are deeply connected. The two poems selected for this week are, like many of his pastels, compositions built from swatches. Unit by unit, phrase by phrase, I’ve come to appreciate Taylor’s poetry as a symphony of shades. Rather than muddy his compositions, Taylor gives his phrases the room to speak, alter, and ultimately harmonize.

Take the poem “black mountain.” A naturalistic description moves to the poet’s mother moves to a surreal image moves to aesthetic observation. Etcetera. Don’t misunderstand me: I couldn’t be happier paraphrasing Taylor’s work; the act of paraphrasing Taylor’s work for the reader takes away the feeling that we are jumping from one coherent statement to another without always understanding how we made the leap in the first place. That’s the art of the swatch. And it works as beautifully in Taylor’s pastels as it does in his poetry. Ryan Winet


black mountain

          for J. Peter Moore


along the drive the rhododendron crease

& wait. my mother’s mother praised these

days. a star fell from the ceiling in my

father’s house & made the vacuum smoke.

wood smoke on cerulean. i have another

dream of jean charlot passed by every son

& so & not seen: stalks all approaching

to raze studies above: hand shades eyes.


over the song & tear-sheet numbers: will

trade for local soul: meat on metal on wood.

he took up the brio & choired three minute

ten inch wax. the unraveling treble clef was

trouble: & threw a rod wheeling his necker

knob: best delta poison in the whiskey.


poem for tuba & trombone


all this difficult brass waits for the minor

chords & shuttlecocks playing out troubles.

hands that milled cotton in the old armory.

sons & daughters still wish in mill houses.

nastic bubble of winds sight-reading four

crooked letters. strings re-tuned to slide.

about embouchure & toe-tap. tongued

notes & pressure. repetition of middle B.


fishermen lower hats on graveyard creek

bridge while his slow procession rolls by:

code of bottomland & eroded red clay roads.

code of the tallapoosa. we lower namesake.

clear every waterkey. blue tailgate & contra-

bass clamber to soughing adrift in kudzu.