Patrick Rosal’s poems are full of music, visceral and tender at the same time. I have just finished my second reading of his latest book Boneshepherds, and I admire much about his work, but I especially admire the way that he ties up his poems with phrases that resonate as both ancient wisdom and something I feel I should have known all my life and never knew how to say.
Start by reading his poem “Delenda Undone” here. How can you resist a closing line like “They shush the goats before they kill them”? It not only ties up the poem, it opens another whole world of possibility to the reader. Also, it ends on an image, something that more poems should aspire to do. (And when I say “more poets,” I mean me. I know when I am getting lazy that I often end up “explaining” my poem at the end or trying to be clever.)
Some other wonderful ending lines from Boneshepherds:
from “Despedida Ardiente” - If there weren’t a sky/within your chest/worth breaking, believe/me, you/would have stopped/all this singing/by now.”
from “To the Young Man Who Jumped into the Hudson to Retrieve a Backpack Full of Poems” - and your heart is a cracked accordion filling fast with silt.
from “Making Love to You the Night They Take Your Father to Prison”…and to this/and the rest/of the world/tonight/I cannot/stop/saying yes.
from “Finding Water” -I found the water./And I wept for everything./And I learned to tell the world/how gorgeous it is to be alone.
from “Bienvenido: Santo Tomas” - Sometimes/we have to sing just to figure out/what we cannot say.
If you want to write:
1. Use one of Rosal’s lines as an epigraph or starting impulse for a new poem.
2. Write a poem that ends on an image.