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Requiem for the Orchard

By Oliver de la Paz

Publication Year: 2010

These are vivid, visceral poems about coming of age in a place "where the Ferris Wheel/ was the tallest thing in the valley," where a boy would learn "to fire a shotgun at nine and wring a chicken's neck/ with one hand by twirling the bird and whipping it straight like a towel." Looking back, the poet wrestles with the meaning of labor in the apple orchards and "the filthy dollars we'd wad into our pockets," or the rites of passage that included sinking a knife into the flank of a dead chestnut horse. In spite of such hardscrabble cruelties-or because of them-there is also a real tenderness in these poems, the revelations of bliss driving along an empty highway "like opening a heavy book, / letting the pages feather themselves and finding a dried flower." In line after line, poem after poem, there is an immersion in the realm of the senses. The poet has a gift for rendering his world in cinematic images: a ten-gallon hat on his head in the second grade is "an upside down chandelier;" carnival workers "snarl into the darkness on their borrowed Harleys." In short, these poems are the stuff of life itself, ugly and beautiful, wherever or whenever we happen to live it. -Martín Espada

Published by: The University of Akron Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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Contents

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pp. v-vi

In Defense of Small Towns

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pp. 1-2

Part I

Requiem

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pp. 5-

At the Time of My Birth

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pp. 6-

Ablation as the Creation of Adam

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pp. 7-8

Self-Portrait as the Burning Plains of Eastern Oregon

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pp. 9-10

Sticks and Stones

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pp. 11-12

Self-Portrait with a Spillway

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pp. 13-

The Poet at Ten

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pp. 14-

Requiem

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pp. 15-

Self-Portrait with Taxidermy

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pp. 16-18

How I Learned Quiet

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pp. 19-

Insomnia as Transfiguration

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pp. 20-

Cussing in the Playground

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pp. 21-

Self-Portrait in My Mother’s Shoes

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pp. 22-23

Requiem

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pp. 24-

Eschatology through a Confluence of Trees

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pp. 25-26

At the Time of My Young Adulthood

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pp. 27-

Self-Portrait beside a Dead Chestnut Horse

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pp. 28-29

Self-Portrait with Schlitz, a Pickup, and the Snake River

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pp. 30-31

By Addition

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pp. 32-

Highway Towns

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pp. 33-

Last Days

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pp. 34-35

Eschatology on Interstate 84 at 70 mph

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pp. 36-

Self-Portrait with a Car Crash

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pp. 37-38

Requiem

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pp. 39-

No One Sleeps through the Night

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pp. 40-41

Part II

Autumn Scene as Lullaby

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pp. 45-

How I Learned Bliss

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pp. 46-

Self-Portrait on Good Friday as an Altar Boy

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pp. 47-48

Once, Love, I Broke a Window

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pp. 49-50

Meditation with Smoke and Flowers

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pp. 51-52

Requiem

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pp. 53-

Self-Portrait Descending Slowly into the Atlantic Ocean

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pp. 54-55

At the Time of My Death

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pp. 56-

Instead, I’m Here to Tell You Very Softly

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pp. 57-

How I Learned the Obvious

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pp. 58-

Requiem

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pp. 59-

Television as a Tool for Remission

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pp. 60-

How You Came About in the World Bewilders Me as a Cherry Tree Flowering

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pp. 61-

If, Given

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pp. 62-

Self-Portrait as a Small Town

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pp. 63-64

Autumn Songs in Four Variations

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pp. 65-68

Ghost Hunting as Physiography

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pp. 69-70

Requiem

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pp. 71-

Eschatology in Five Acres

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pp. 72-73

Self-Portrait as a Series of Non-Sequential Lessons

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pp. 74-75

The Boy with the Fiddle in a Crowded Square

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pp. 76-

Colony Collapse Disorder in Honey Bees as Eschatology

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pp. 77-78

Prayer for What Won’t Happen

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pp. 79-80

The Surgical Theater as Spirit Cabinet

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pp. 81-82

By Subtraction

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pp. 83-

Requiem

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pp. 84-

Self-Portrait with What Remains

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pp. 85-86

Acknowledgments

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pp. 87-88

Akron Series in Poetry

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pp. 89-90


E-ISBN-13: 9781935603986
E-ISBN-10: 1935603981
Print-ISBN-13: 9781931968744
Print-ISBN-10: 1931968748

Page Count: 88
Publication Year: 2010

Series Title: Akron Series in Poetry
Series Editor Byline: Mary Biddinger, Editor

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