Copyright 2016 by Carrie Etter

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Cole Swensen's On Walking On (Nightboat, 2017), first selection

November 10, 2017


I'm relishing Cole Swensen's new book. Here is a first array of favourite passages:



The first walk: the first line: that so alone am I who loved     so is walking

always walking toward. I saw myself in shards. The drift that drives


the eye into time. 




Any walk     Rousseau once said     is endless where     the wild might seem

to have a name undone from within     the unanswered flaw     written out


by hand.




This I who ran adrift.     Should it rain.     Begin again.     The rain.

Kept me in all morning among my hands. 




                                      You can see me there wandering, ecstatic

in the green of it, the grove of it, the mind. 



Distilled     the soul is always found alone in the clearing of a grove.

And shivers in a crowd.   




I fell today as I walked     I was talking to myself     it was something I said

that broke the air     and kept on breaking it     down into smaller

and smaller pieces.




"In walking is the forgetting of the world" dissolved of body, small


in timing, sharp in lightning, and full of such abandon, hand in hand,

the heart rains from within, I think, the found, once trusted, veers.


from 'Rousseau: The Reveries of a Solitary Walker'


10:15, and a man is walking his cat. Unlikely, I know. He knows it, too. But it looks like an established routine. Man goes one way. Cat stays at corner; man comes back, making here-here noises; cat goes the other way; man follows. The street is calm.


end of 'A Walk on May 17'


                                                                                                                    And was


neither heard nor herded, although I sensed the gathering forces trying to


gather up the indeterminate group of all things headed forward. I will sort them.


end of first 'Wordsworth'



For whom there was no difference, to walk simply was to write


and vice-versa.     Rhythm as a mode of sight


from second 'Wordsworth'



You can purchase On Walking On in the UK from Blackwell's. 



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