Reading Yehoshua November


Reading Yehoshua November’s Two Worlds Exist, just out from Orison Books. Each poem quiet, packed with an ethereal power; a dramatic reticence is at work here: ideas filter into the poems from another world. Such empathy without condescension, such comfort without sentimentality, such spareness filled with more than the longest poems hold. A faith in each word, in each image, each abstraction, in the lineation, the sounds, the white space. These aspects of the poem, and the confidence in them, do the work. So the poet can step back and let truths filter in, giving the reader the boundaries, safety, a quiet space in which to be moved and to learn.

The Bike

You need to get out more,
to exercise and get fresh air
the doctors told my cousin
after his son drowned
in a terrible accident.
So he started biking wherever he had to go,
but it didn’t help.

When I visited his city,
he rode his bike to my hotel.
Later, I watched him turn the corner
and wave goodbye.
I watched until I could no longer see his form–
beard, black pants, white shirt–
bent forward, peddling
his son’s old bike
into the long summer evening.

[painting by Mark Rothko]

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