About the Feature

There are those for whom figures
on balconies exist, if only as possibilities.

People in photographs with arms
outstretched in salute or worship

before the empty terrace where
a figure is meant to appear—for now,

for repeated scenes, for always.

And there are those with their politics, their
fears and hopes caught in those adoring thrusts,

who must make their gestures even as they
are the ones whose gestures will be mocked

even as that mocking is accounted for.

There exists the brushed-back reticence of the “I”
that makes one otherworldly to the world, un autre,

as in Rimbaud’s case, enslaved, the poet wrote,
by his baptismal rite. So it is with ritual, with repeats

of word or act—the forms insist on want, on warmth
desired as at a drafty window. It is all clear, clear

as that sun-filled winter day, lucent, brutal
and severe, with so much glare the scene

seems pathless, static in its brilliance.

About the Author

Michael Heller has published over twenty volumes of poetry, essays, memoir, and fi ction. His newest book is This Constellation Is a Name: Collected Poems 1965–2010 (Nightboat Books, 2012). Among his recent books are Eschaton, Beckmann Variations & Other Poems, Exigent Futures, and Living Root: A Memoir. His many awards include the NEH Poet/Scholar Grant, the Di Castagnola Prize, the Fund for Poetry, and New York Foundation on the Arts Fellowships. He lives in New York City.