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Zeno's Eternity

Zeno's Eternity

Mark Jarman

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71-page paperback / 5.5" x 8.5" / ISBN 9781589881709 / Publication Date: 1/10/2023

"These sensitive and meditative poems offer up new ways to consider the passage of time."—Publishers Weekly

"A moving collection that acknowledges the limitations of the human mind, but also the limitless capacity of the human heart."—Chapter 16

The poems in Mark Jarman’s new collection, Zeno’s Eternity, take their cue from Zeno’s paradox, which says that since space is infinitely divisible, an arrow traveling toward a target will never reach its destination. Everything exists in a kind of suspension.

From “The Arrow Paradox”:

Zeno sent
his arrow flying
endlessly from point
to point along its arc
to make a point
about eternity:
getting there is tricky.

Though our lives run on, we may feel that certain moments are timeless, and love that moves us toward each other can give us a sense of eternity. Portraying moments from ordinary life and from times long past, moments both pivotal and mundane, Jarman encourages the reader to feel the beat of time and its inexplicable stillness. By making scenes indelible, the poet stops time; and we might ask ourselves, is this not only Zeno’s eternity, but ours, too?


“With precision and tenderness, Jarman explores the sinew and soul of humankind.”—Publishers Weekly on The Heronry

"In Mark Jarman's considerable new collection...[the poems] very often trace similar paths of thought and experience toward freedom, light, truth, and love."—Booklist on The Heronry

“On page after page, Jarman takes quotidian diurnal light and transforms it into solar energy.”—Los Angeles Review of Books on Dailiness

"His specific ability to help the reader understand why a poem or even a particular word works is extraordinary."―ZYZZYVA on Dailiness

“I admire the way Mark Jarman’s poetry worries spiritual concerns while remaining rooted in the everyday.”— Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal, on Bone Fires

"While most of the poems explore faith in its many manifestations, there is something here transcendent that speaks to everyone. Highly recommended."—Library Journal on Epistles

"Mark Jarman is . . . one of the most thoughtful and adroit poets writing these days, a man with handsome ambitions."—The Georgia Review on The Black Riviera

Three poems from Zeno's Eternity:

"The Arrow Paradox"

Zeno sent
his arrow flying
endlessly from point
to point along its arc
to make a point
about eternity:
getting there is tricky.

That’s what I think
anyway, snow flakes
stalled in the morning’s
freezing air
like seed fluff
reluctant to drop
anchor in the ice.

I’m watching that
tentative descent
though I’m in motion
and counter motion
even as I follow
my pen’s blue notes
and think I’m not—

not doing anything,
not going anywhere
much farther
than my own flight
across the blank
of the turning page.

“Growing Rain”

Term my parents learned in a church of farmers,
in eastern Kentucky, the place where I was born,

and said the rest of their lives, in Scottish mist
with a tang of coal smoke, and in Oregon overcast.

A growing rain, they said, whenever it fell
gently and steadily, soaking without beating down,

even on Christmas Day on patchy snow,
a growing rain, though mealy, thin, or pointless.

Good shoes darkened side by side at the bus stop.
Woolen coats hung down with water weight.

Crowding drops bled together on the windshield,
enriched the pavement. More than enough for all.

The surplus of good and evil saturated
the daily news and, reaching from its cloud

on the X-ray, the cancer quietly budded, blossomed.
The growing rain kept falling all their lives.

“She Twirled Along the Brick Wall, Fingertips”

She twirled along the brick wall, fingertips
clawing at mortar to take hold
and skittering over the wall face like a keyboard,
frantic, muted.

And I as usual was just trudging along,
head down – on ice this time – more of a mincing
than true trudging, though my soul trudged,
when I caught her.

Slim, young, padded in pleated fleece,
and taller than I as I helped her stand,
she pulled an earplug out beneath her knit cap,
said, “Ouch.”

And said it like a quiet bid for privacy.
Paternal, winded, I wanted an assurance.
And she assured me with a thanks that meant,
“Just let me cry.”

Mark Jarman
is the author of eleven books of poetry. The Heronry is his most recent. He has also published five books of essays and reviews, including Dailiness (Paul Dry Books, 2020), and won numerous awards for his poetry. He is Centennial Professor of English, Emeritus, at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN.

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