From poems of memory and family through its extraordinary voyaging sequences "Via Appia" and "To Ithaca," Ron Smith's Moon Road embodies the experiences and some of the more elusive lessons of marriage, fatherhood, teaching, sports, and travel. Domestic poems give way to poems of pilgrimage and witness, to poems of literary homage and metaphysical questioning. A mind nurtured in the mid-twentieth-century Deep South drifts north and west and finally abroad, and sometimes into visionary, mysterious pasts. With skeptical reverence, the poems hunger for and dramatize a search for immanence and transcendence. Many poems examine the fear of meaninglessness, the griefs of separation and alienation, and the limits as well as the powers of language.
A full moon disentangles
from the petroleum plant
as we pull out of the harbor,
rocking like childhood
toward Ithaca. Jets bank in and out
of an airport I've never seen.
The deck blooms backpacks,
sleeping bags, a few tents.
The ship shudders and turns, makes
straight for the moon.
We're riding the moon road into a cave.
We shake and shake our heads, but
it's still there, black tunnel
the moon mines paving our path with gold.
We climb out of the wind,
into our bunks, you above,
me below, rocked to sleep, chaste,
sky sister, tide brother,
light and dark, dark and light.
From "Moon Road" published in Moon Roadby Ron Smith.
Copyright © 2007 by Ron Smith. All rights reserved.
Ron Smith is the Poet Laureate of Virginia and the author of the poetry collections Running Again in Hollywood Cemetery and Moon Road. Winner of the Carole Weinstein Prize and other poetry awards, he holds the George Squires Chair of Distinguished Teaching and serves as Writer-in-Residence at St. Christopher’s School in Richmond, Virginia. He is also an adjunct associate professor at the University of Richmond.
Advance Praise for Moon Road
"In reading Ron Smith's new collection, I am reminded of Horace's famous advice to his fellow poets: ‘Let what thou work'st upon/Be simple quite throughout, and wholly one.' The virtues of clarity and cohesion, of a lyric intelligence that refuses to posture and a wit that refuses to pander—ones which Ron Smith possesses in abundance—are not much praised anymore, though they should be. Superbly but unobtrusively crafted, and laden with a pathos that always seems hard-earned, Moon Road is a book of real distinction."—David Wojahn
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