Poetry by Michael McClure
The running theme in Michael McClure’s Simple Eyes & Other Poems is: looking at the world directly. The results are often as disquieting as they are illuminating, whether he directs his unblinking gaze on the American cityscape, the landscapes of Mexico and Kenya, or the mind’s own terrain. In the long title poem, “Simple Eyes (Fields),” the stanzas on the Persian Gulf War bloom out of images of all wars the poet has known––“the spiritual wars, the napalm and cordite and nuclear wars, and the war against nature”––and become a kind of spiritual autobiography. At the heart of the poetry is McClure’s return to the ancient concept of agnosia, the idea of knowing through unknowing, as a way of living in desperate times, in which deep human or humane feelings have almost become outlaw. Simple Eyes is an outspoken poet’s statement, unsentimental, yet with mind and eye quickened by love.