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Curves and Angles: Poems


Curves and Angles: Poems Cover





(Detroit, 1948)

New, and entirely new to the neighborhoodÉ

One August day, it came to their own street:

the Nutleys brought home a television!

Nights now, the neighbors began to meet

more often than before, out walking,

walking past the Nutleys, who, on display

behind their picture window, sat frozen

in their chairs, watching their television, which lay

off to the side, just out of view,

so you couldn’t make out what

it was they were watching but only

them watching, the four Nutleys, in a blue

glow that was lunar but

not lunar exactly.

That was the summer we all

watched the Nutleys–no,

we all watched “The Nutleys,”

which was the one great show

of the summer, it ran for weeks,

with its four silent stars

behind glass, until nights went cold

and damp and we turned to our cars

if we ventured out after dark,

and then–three in a row–

the Daleys, the Floods, the Markses

took the plunge, they brought home the glow,

and the Nutleys, suddenly,

belonged to a new community.


There are those great winds on a tear

Over the Great Plains,

Bending the grasses all the way

Down to the roots

And the grasses revealing

A gracefulness in the wind’s fury

You would not otherwise

Have suspected there.

And there’s the wind off the sea

Roiling the thin crowns of the great

Douglas firs on the cragged

Oregon coast, uprooting

Choruses of outraged cries,

As if the trees were unused

To bending, who can weather

Such storms for a century.

And–somewhere between those places,

Needing a break–we climb out stiff

From our endless drive to stand, dwindled,

On a ridge, holding hands,

In what are foothills only because

The neighboring mountains are

So much taller, and there are the breezes,

Contrarily pulled, awakening our faces.


Memory buries its own,

And of what now forever must be

The longest day of his life

What mostly remained was a blur

Under too-bright lights–so he

Could scarcely tell if the things

Sharpest in his mind were

Nothing but fantasies, sewn

Afterwards, out of grief,

And guilt’s imaginings.

Yet it seemed memory called up

(After the interminable birth,

As his finger stroked the arm

Of a child who would not last

Even one whole day

And all of its time on earth

Ministered to by vast

Machines that couldn’t mend the harm

In a single transcription slip

In reams of DNA)

A look so haunted, so

Haunting, he would not confess

(Not even later, to his wife)

How it stayed with him, on him: the slow

Flicker in a watery eye,

The mute call–through all

The exhausted hopefulness

The condemned come to know

In the end–from animal to animal,

Imploring, Please save my life.


In a seldom-entered attic

you force a balky door,

disclosing a room made brilliant

by an orange tree whose branches bear

no fruit but maple leaves;

We’re in New England, after all.

Though rippling foliage fills

the pane, the flush that tints the wall

will last a week or two, no more.


And this conception, if consoling,

of a high, untenanted room

lit solely by a tree

houses as well–at least for those

who’d sidestep round the fear

that in the give-and-take of calls

to answer, calls to make,

we lose the light most dim, most clear–

a reprimand no breeze can shake.


When miles of perfect whiteness

Gave way to a whiteness below

(Snowed-under hills of a cloudlike brightness

Under cloudbanks heaped like snow),

By either light

How fulfilling to contemplate

Domains so evenly claimworthy–

Unpeopled, complete.

From the Hardcover edition.Copyright © 2006 by Brad Leithauser

Product Details

Leithauser, Brad
Brad Leithauser
Poetry : General
Poetry : American - General
American - General
General Poetry
Poetry-A to Z
Publication Date:

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Poetry » A to Z

Curves and Angles: Poems
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 69 pages Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group - English 9780307494696 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , A new compilation of poetry by the author of A Few Corrections and The Friends of Freeland explores the soft contours of human motivation and the curves of the human body, as well as sharper angles of the inanimate world, as he captures a pair of young lovers, children playing during a midsummer evening, a frozen Icelandic lake, and more.
"Synopsis" by , There's a down-to-earth wisdom in the way Brad Leithauser sees the transcendent in everyday experience: Instead of trying to make it happen, he lets it happen. --Katie Peterson, Chicago Tribune

Why devote oneself to that aggressively minor genre, poetry, when novels and screenplays and tell-all memoirs get more notice and make more money? Brad Leithauser answers that question in Curves and Angles. --The New York Times Book Review

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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