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Palm Up, Palm Down

Palm Up, Palm Down

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Palm Up, Palm Down

72 pages
23 minutes
Sep 1, 2017


David Taylor's new book begins with a huge sigh -- "I gave up on gods years ago, / taking instead the offerings of sex, woods, and wine. / Now, I'm letting go of those too." But then this Texas boy (an inveterate environmentalist) begins to get excited by the New England woodlands and shorelines, coming rapidly to the conclusion that "I know / nothing ... no thing ... not one thing." After that, Taylor's inquisitive dance takes off, ranging from the Texas prairies to Pennsylvania backwoods to the high Sierras of California to the streets of Havana, Cuba. Carefully crafted, highly observational, environmentally sensitive poems that push the pause button on our current chaos.

Palm Up, Palm Down draws on connections and commitments to home and place -- human and nonhuman. Such a topic is not new to poetry; however, this book moves in circles, out and away, then returns home, rediscovering the quiet beyond/within the concept of "home." The collection moves readers to slow not only their reading but encourages them to slow down the pace of their lives, allowing time to inhabit, listen, and invite in the broad array of neighbors.

Sep 1, 2017

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Palm Up, Palm Down - David Taylor


The Edges of the World

I gave up on gods years ago,

taking instead the offerings of sex, woods, and wine.

Now, I’m letting go of those too.

Age I guess,

having looked elsewhere,

and elsewhere, exhausted,

I am coming home to sit,

an old verse in my ear,

a small desk, a rummaged stack of dog-eared books,

the edges of the world.

To breathe in,

watching the twirling fall of brown willow leaves,

the offerings of heat or cold,

one hand lifted high, palm up, as sky,

one hand, palm down, as earth,

is to make edge

a center,

breathing out, the center


to edge.

A Feather

Words spoken as the slight edge of yellow

on early fall maple leaves,

great horned owl calls during the night,

a cool morning mist falling,

the cackle and honking of Canada geese flying over before sunlight,

the roll and fall of the ocean behind the forest,

an eagle feather a sentence--

sounds around us

born not from

but to us.

I’ll Take this Light

Sun finally, after three days of rain and cool weather,

leaves tilt in yellows and greens in light and dark

and flecks of umber,

with darting flashes of blue and gray,

bluejays and nuthatches

stretching their wings to warmth.

We follow such brief turns,

weather, a wilting flower, a shock of light, a turn of phrase,

use the dying ember for our losses but offer little about its birth—

a heavy trope for a light day.

But for now,

give me this rising fire,

a morning of swaying oak, maple and hickory lit alive.

I will tend to it.

Not That Far

I have five feathers now lined along the top of my desk—

grackle, blue jay, mourning dove, chickadee, nuthatch—

ranging from oily black to light gray.

Each day, I scour the ground by the feeder

to see what might be left to me.

It’s a past time, something I do

when the day has more to spare than the office.

I sing to the birds sometimes

as I scratch among the scattered leaves,

Hank Williams,

Hear that lonesome whipoorwill/She sounds too blue to fly


Ramblin’ Jack singing The Cuckoo

"Well the cuckoo

she’s a pretty bird

and she warbles as she

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