Two Poems
by NICHOLAS SAMARAS



The History of the Twenty-First Century


We awoke, each day, accelerated. America was spent
with mornings still brilliant, but too small.

Television was what held the country together--
each of us the star of our own series.

We woke and found our problem was that we always
lived in one world, but imagined another.

The most real things about us were our toys.
While we were trying to be Europe, Europe was working to be us.

We awoke and saw we could never discover Paris in Paris,
could never be Americans in America.

Forced to redefine the personal threshold,
we took the architecture of the past,

disassembled the built frontier to create a new one.
It isn't that we were escaping.

We were just leveling time, seeing our faces fresh in the unfamiliar.
A nation that believes its own mythology is doomed,

so we became historians of zero, the pure flatness of that.
We went back to the nature of originours,

and borders that, for once, set on expanse again.
A nation of escapees, we fled the idea of nationality.

The only frontier remaining rested on our chests.
What unified us was a final longing for what we couldn't achieve.

When we saw our accomplishments over, what was left
was to repeat ourselves--so we embraced the beauty of self-anarchy,

its wiped color. We sculpted deserts out of cities.
We wanted a land of exactly noon, a place of least shadow.

We heated everything down to nova
and turned off the generators. Heady with exile, we left

the doors open, the wind drifting and touching nothing.
We went for whiteness.

previously published in Chautauqua Literary Review. Issue 1.
New York:  Chautauqua (Summer, 2004):  36-37


Eve Naming Other Aminals

Slender horns approach, and I find
my touch makes them shapely:  fronds

of opaque light that dance from angles.
I like their intimacy more than angels,

more than that shimmer that stays in place.
Into the meadow of limbs and motion, I trace

the bent wheat to be with them there.
Like a gesture moving through air,

it is a gesture moving through air.
I find this given language spare,

suddenly. It leaves too soon in breath.
Fellow creatures, I take the fenneled path

of you. The glance of our forms
in our reflective eyes. Our terms

for each otherneed they be so ruled
and firm? The he-me:  boredom I've hurled

at your feet, your white gait flinting
the light. I name you "event cantering."

That one I call "this for now" because it unfolds
and folds and, furry, crimps away. And, behold,

you, yellow-wrinkling the leaf-tailed grasses
I name you "shape of you," that, muscled, passes

under the thrilling shiver of your skin.
I name you "changeable wish," and let you in

to this space of myself to contain largeness,
to hold and let go of moments words should caress.

I name you "fire dancing in mouth." Excite
me with stories. Stroll me back in the night

and call me, too. "Feathers folding" fly
down to trees. Backsided, the light walks away.

previously published in in New England Review. Volume 16, Number 3.
Vermont:  Middlebury College (Summer, 1994):  115-116
NICHOLAS SAMARAS won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award with his first book, “Hands of the Saddlemaker.” Fellowship Awards include the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Academy of American Poets, and the Lilly Endowment Foundation, etc. He serves as the Poetry Editor for The Adirondack Review, and his successive work has appeared or is forthcoming in The New Yorker, Poetry, The Paris Review, The New York Times, New Republic, Kenyon Review, Image, etc. He’s from Patmos, Greece (the “Island of the Apocalypse”) and, at the time of the Greek Junta  (“Coup of the Generals”),  was brought in exile to be raised further in America. He’s lived in Greece, England, Wales, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Yugoslavia, Jerusalem, thirteen states in America, and he writes from a place of permanent exile.