Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

“You, Reader”

Book Excerpt: The Absurd Man

You, Reader

So often I dream of the secrets of satellites,
and so often I want the moose to step
from the shadows and reveal his transgressions,
and so often I come to her body
as though she were Lookout Mountain,
but give me a farmers’ market to park my martyred masks
and I will name all the dirt roads that dead-end
at the cubist sculpture called My Infinity,
for I no longer light bonfires in the city of adulterers
and no longer smudge the cheeks of debutantes
hurriedly floating across the high fruit of night,
and yes, I know there is only one notable death in any small town
and that is the pig farmer, but listen, at all times
the proud rivers mourn my absence, especially
when, like a full moon, you, reader, hidden behind a spray
of night-blooming, drift in and out of scattered clouds
above lighthouses producing their artificial calm,
just to sweep a chalk of light over distant waters.

“You, Reader”

Reprinted from The Absurd Man: Poems. Copyright (c) 2020 by Major Jackson. Used with permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. Major Jackson is the author of five volumes of poetry, including Roll Deep and Leaving Saturn, which won the Cave Canem Poetry Prize for a first book of poems. In January 2021, he will join the Vanderbilt University faculty as Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of English.

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