ISBN: 978-1944521073, August 2020
Softcover, 146 pages, 6.69 x 9.61 in.
Ravens, Nights is Peter Shaindlin’s third published book of poetry, a collection of varied works. From tranquil pastorales to coarsely hewn cityscapes, erotic ruminations and grandiose reveries, reimagined haiku to pictographic poesy, this unique collection represents an informed homage to the modern canon while staking new territory within the noumenon of twenty-first-century culture.
Rains descended upon the shrine
whose golden shibi,
beaded with a thousand crystal droplets
looked sideways at the forest
as a koi does to the sea
We were in the car that night
driving up the rise
when oh so gently,
in square silence,
in milk-sweet bands of hushed, fine light
we looked upon the comet’s death
A Review by Frank Stewart
Here is lyric poetry that testifies to the beauty of the material world, to the bewildering turns entangled in emotions fully experienced, and to the gratitude we must ultimately feel for being alive. Gratitude for forests, seas, stars, gardens, houses, cathedrals, bus stops, and trains—in spite of—and perhaps because of—the world’s brevity and ours.
In their care for the sensuous world, many of the poems create the effects of still life paintings, the music of Bach, retellings of classic myth, pastoral art, and song. And they evoke many places, from Japan to Eastern Europe. But most importantly there are people: strangers in a courtyard or café, friends, aging parents, and lovers, who, like the poet himself, seem to be always passing away, turning into dust, but also into light.
As much as he adores the world, Shaindlin also attends to the beauty possible in language. His lines are always musical in the best sense, poised, thoughtful, carefully arranged. If the language sometimes seem to recall dreams, they are the dreams of Proust, Baudelaire, and Ovid. And there are many dreamers and many voices in this poetry. As he asks, almost directly of the reader, “I hear many voices there / Are you listening?”
The things you told me
—that I heard
I don’t always hear when you talk—
When you speak
I hear only what I see
As your mouth and your lips
form and shape tones,
pictures rich with sounds,
as objects, people, places,
things and other things
spill off your tongue
on the moistened blanket of your breath
in the world of my loving mind
Form eludes form
The potter throws his clay
as the river washes through his hands:
He cannot just be of
because he must be within and above,
Reshaping one small earth
so he can sit at God’s feet again
before some other one stops his song
Singing silently to the yellow wind
Breathing without breath
Life without death
She said to me, I’m human, too and need some water, and light and a necklace or pretty ring I can wear all the time to happily remind me.
I strode towards her silently, barefoot, across the faded floorboards, now just behind her as she gazed out towards the waning tide. Gently I lifted her white pāreu and touched her flesh that felt like marble in the Roman sun. I pressed upon her until we were that single stone.
Peter Shaindlin on Ravens, Nights