The Apothecary’s Heir

Poet Julianne Buchsbaum has won acclaim for her “rich, lucid, alliterative lexicon, full of apt surprise” (Reginald Shepherd); “there is something of Wallace Stevens in her precision, her incredible diction,” says Matthew Rohrer. Her new collection, The Apothecary’s Heir, depicts a damaged world in which the speaker is trying to make sense of human relationships in the aftermath of loss. A series of meditations on landscapes of our postmodern world—a sickbed, a gas station, a bomb shelter, a rest stop along a highway—these supple poems explore the frailty of human connectedness and anatomize desire in a world of pharmaceuticals and microchips.

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Selected by

Lucie Brock-Broido





Dolefully, an odd discoverer, I ramble down
deserted streets inspecting the sullen houses
that make even gold light rot on their roofs.
I did not come to catechize among the palms of midnight
nor expand upon the savagery of winter’s cruciforms.
Did not come to parlay a leaf-shorn nothingness against
cadaverous refuges of noon. All day, I push sheets
of paper around in a room. I do not carry certain parts
of myself into conversation. I steer clear of conversation.
Noon scented with blooms breeds a bareness of yellow,
melted metals, broken locusts. Did not come
to trace the purple trees with quills or brushes.
So much for the flitter of a few starved leaves.
Annotator of tattered nests, connoisseur of clouds,
I leave behind the flaws of many strange places.
Midday comes with its criticisms and an abundance
of blank labels. Did not come to flatter, did not come
to pray. Amid these branches intertwined like bronze
conduits and the late-afternoon opulence of plaster
facades, successive shadows make mystical harbor.