Petroglyph Americana is a book-length poem about the landscapes, communities, and history of the American West, with resonances and reflections from Asian landscapes and cultures. Petroglyph Americana is published by Empty Bowl Press, an independent press in Port Townsend, Washington, that has published poetry, essays, and translation with bioregional, anti-militarization, and Pacific Rim themes since the 1970s.
“Petroglyph America is one of those volumes that casts a long shadow. Its philosophical components are spot on for our time in this country. Ezell renders his insights with frequent humor, but his language is pure heaven. Whether he is writing of a highway that “unscrolls like an asphalt tongue” or of how “the cowls and towers of a tungsten mine / stand like robot trees or missile silos / against a canvas sky” he orchestrates precision of image with music every time.”
—Karen Swenson, author of The Landlady in Bangkok, National Poetry Series winner, 1993.
“Reading Scott Ezell’s Petroglyph Americana, I imagine de Tocqueville returning from an Asian exile or Hart Crane rising from the Gulf of Mexico somehow summoning the strength for one more paean to the absurdity of our times and the phantasmagoria of our passage. And yet, the sweetness is overpowering. Another bodhisattva sends back news from the trail.”
—Bill Porter (Red Pine), author of Road to Heaven, translator of The Collected Songs of Cold Mountain.
daguerreotype clouds spill like iodine and mercury into the silver sky,
machines blow leaves o sidewalks,
trash trucks hum and lift
plastic recycle bins
stained with grease and wine—
potted plants hang
from clay roof tiles and stucco walls,
sailboats list in driveways,
garage golf clubs
rust and wait with metal shafts
for the clutch of hands,
the impact of balls on tees,
piston exertion of gasoline
strains against continental mass,
jet planes glide