A new (to me) transatlantic voice! Major Jackson, is the recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship, teaches at the University of Vermont, and is poetry editor of The Harvard Review. This poem from his new collection, Roll Deep (W W Norton and Co, £11.99), describes his return to consciousness in the early morning amid the “sweet clamors” of the neighbourhood birds.

           CRIES & WHISPERS

Every day I forget something, yet happy

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I never forget to wake

to the bright corollas of summer

mornings. In the jury box of my bed,

I listen to the counterarguments

of finches and blue jays, cardinals and

the tufted titmice, and the sharp judgment

of the crow, grow to sweet clamors.

In my neighbourhood, someone like me

is sitting at a kitchen table taking down notes

between bites of granola and gentle sips

of oolong tea and recording the soap opera

in the trees. The pen is her large

antenna to the mysteries which come

in alternate currents of slapstick

and calamity. She writes away her nights

of emptiness and boredom. We’d be perfect

in a Bergman film, both of us entering into day

seeking the final appearance of things,

bumping around like this. A delivery truck

backs into a driveway. The streets

begin their excited breathing.