Before Snowfall, After Rain
In Before Snowfall, After Rain, Ariel Francisco writes, "I was born in the city/ that never sleeps so perhaps/ insomnia is my birthright." Surely poetry is his birthright, too, the way Francisco never fails in every poem to make us see the ordinary world anew, even transfigured. In these poems, "morning arrives like an express train" and "winter arrives every year like a janitor," "the sky cr[ies] its apologies" and "the breeze ghost-/ writes the ocean's sorrow into tumbling waves." Here is a poet who, with skillful grace, graphs the heart's great landscape onto the natural world, showing how even water can be "jilted" like a lover, how "Even dead stars give us their light."
— Julie Marie Wade, author of Six and When I Was Straight
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Sample poem from Before Snowfall, After Rain:
Silence over the Snowy Fields
for Robert Bly
Through the plane's oval window: a harbor
bites into the mainland like a great blue dragon.
Heavy whiteness douses the landscape, forces
it to forget what it looks like, what it is, like
a mind that fails to recognize itself. Pinpricks
of car headlights like cinder drifting
through the world, the remains of a once great
fire; dull azure of frozen lakes, visible in
shapeless patches beneath the falling snow
— the echoing nothingness of erasure —
the sound of it settling on the iced surface.
Ariel Francisco is a first generation American poet of Dominican and Guatemalan descent. He is currently completing his MFA at Florida International University where he is the editor-in-chief of Gulf Stream Literary Magazine and also the winner of an Academy of American Poets Prize. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Gulf Coast, Tupelo Quarterly, Washington Square, and elsewhere.