Ralph Angel is the author of four books of poetry: Exceptions and Melancholies: Poems 1986-2006 (2007 PEN USA Poetry Award); Twice Removed; Neither World (James Laughlin Award of The Academy of American Poets); and Anxious Latitudes; as well as a translation of Federico GarcŪa Lorcaís Poema del cante jondo / Poem of the Deep Song.

His poems have appeared in scores of magazines and anthologies, both here and abroad, and recent literary awards include a gift from the Elgin Cox Trust, a Pushcart Prize, a Gertrude Stein Award, the Willis Barnstone Poetry Translation Prize, a Fulbright Foundation fellowship and the Bess Hokin Award of the Modern Poetry Association.

Mr. Angel is Edith R. White Distinguished Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Redlands, and a member of the MFA Program in Writing faculty at Vermont College. Originally from Seattle, he lives in Los Angeles.


Two Poems by Ralph Angel


Nobodyís Dead There

The road sloped
mostly sideways. Itís okay
that Iím sleepy. The moon on the lake
followed us home.
Todayís rain is more tropical. No family
anywhere, or that sense
of cold.

Itís important not to
yell at your neighbor. Itís what she
wants you to do. I only hate
what I pity. I am a transitory and not too disgruntled
citizen of a city deemed
sleepless
for the sake of its very small
fishes. You are
my tongue.

We must attend to
and bless the amenities. We wash our hands
and go nuts. I know morningís
crazy. I know
bread.
A few slices were once
used as stepping stones. Thank God
for friends. I hear the thrush

repeating itself.
Thereís a prayer for that
too, remember?
We eat less and less. We run and we
exercise. The whole point is to open old wounds and
not talk.
Only then is the quiet
nothing more than the sound of the tires.
To this day, knock
on wood.


The Heart of Things

And so say nothing of the birds
out back, or how the leaves of trees grow louder
than the city, how a room
begins again as though it had been taken away
only. Whatever now
that Iím afraid of, but casually, like someone
sitting crosswise in her chair, her legs
curved over one side, sipping a glass of wine
and spying on her neighbors,
not ill-arranged things really, but that sense
of realism that takes up a lot more time
than I or anyone together
has to give.

And so stayed longer, he said, into the evening
behind the page and out of the cold,
even the dead are free again
to love us as in life a human being
is singled out and standing there, on the curb,
shifting the way we do from
foot to shoeless foot,

and so broke
apart the vision I expected
of myself, confused among those
dozing on the platform, and at home the air
is moist again with tea, but
faintly so, those fragrant several moments
that sound the most like dream,
like dreaming aloud the nightmare
that I alone am still.