Almost Invisible

by Mark Strand

Almost Invisible

Hardcover, 50 pages, Random House Inc, List Price: $26 | purchase

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Book Summary

A latest collection by the U.S. Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Blizzard of One is comprised of whimsical, prose-style dramas that explore the receding vista of life while posing eloquent, riddle-like conundrums about the human condition.

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Note: Book excerpts are provided by the publisher and may contain language some find offensive.

Excerpt: Almost Invisible

A Banker in the Brothel of Blind Women

A banker strutted into the brothel of blind women. "I am a shepherd," he announced, "and blow my shepherd's pipe as often as I can, but I have lost my flock and feel that I am at a critical point in my life." "I can tell by the way you talk," said one of the women, "that you are a banker only pretending to be a shepherd and that you want us to pity you, which we do because you have stooped so low as to try to make fools of us." "My dear," said the banker to the same woman, "I can tell that you are a rich widow looking for a little excitement and are not blind at all." "This observation suggests," said the woman, "that you may be a shepherd after all, for what kind of rich widow would find excitement being a whore only to end up with a banker?" "Exactly," said the banker.


The Everyday Enchantment of Music

A rough sound was polished until it became a smoother sound, which was polished until it became music. Then the music was polished until it became the memory of a night in Venice when tears of the sea fell from the Bridge of Sighs, which in turn was polished until it ceased to be and in its place stood the empty home of a heart in trouble. Then suddenly there was sun and the music came back and traffic was moving and off in the distance, at the edge of the city, a long line of clouds appeared, and there was thunder, which, however menacing, would become music, and the memory of what happened after Venice would begin, and what happened after the home of the troubled heart broke in two would also begin.


Poem of the Spanish Poet

In a hotel room somewhere in Iowa an American poet, tired of his poems, tired of being an American poet, leans back in his chair and imagines he is a Spanish poet, an old Spanish poet, nearing the end of his life, who walks to the Guadalquivir and watches the ships, gray and ghostly in the twilight, slip downstream. The little waves, approaching the grassy bank where he sits, whisper something he can't quite hear as they curl and fall. Now what does the Spanish poet do? He reaches into his pocket, pulls out a notebook, and writes:

Black fly, black fly
Why have you come

Is it my shirt
My new white shirt

With buttons of bone
Is it my suit

My dark-blue suit
Is it because

I lie here alone
Under a willow

Cold as stone
Black fly, black fly

How good you are
To come to me now

How good you are
To visit me here

Black fly, black fly
To wish me good-bye

From Almost Invisible by Mark Strand. Copyright 2012 by Mark Strand. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.

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