David Romtvedt


Publisher: White Wine Press

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The poems in Certainty capture the moments of life that are joyful but too often forgotten, painful but too often remembered.

Selections from Certainty

Yesterday I realized I had forgotten Barcelona- not only the
word, but the city itself and all those who live there.
Now, I remember the flower vendor and the kosher butcher
on the Street of the Infant Martyrs. I remember a small boy
dragging his bright blue nylon pack through the dust
as he runs toward school. Turning a corner I nearly collide
with a pretty woman who is walking out of a shop. She smiles
at me and her magenta dress bristles like flame. I am so
excited I clap my hands and the pigeons rise from the wet
gutters like clouds of dark diesel rolling up along the walls
of the ancient buildings. I want to keep this forever- this
place I might never see again, these foreign words and that
sky whose blue is strange. Such longing! And I can neither
hold on to it nor really let it go.

Painting the Fence
I was going to say I thought of that monk again,
the one burning himself to death in Saigon. But
the truth is I did not think of him, I saw him.
The monk is dead but the smallest thing brings him home.
I am painting the fense inside the garden. First I scrape
the old paint away. Huge flakes fall from the boards
and land in the dirt. Then I spread the new paint
on the raw boards. Drops of oil-based primer mottle
the leaves of lettuce at my feet. Finished, I walk
to the garage and unscrew the lid to the gasoline
I use as paint thinner. The odor fills up my nose. As if
a burning match had been thrown into my open mouth,
I gulp it down and choke. I cough again and again,
hacking, trying to pull up whatever is blocking my breath.
Here is the monk, pounding me on the back, assuring me
I'll be fine, this is my grandest moment, wrapped in
smoke, my hands waving flames as tears roll down my face.


"It is nice to hear from this poet who at his best gathers what is serious and what is dreamy and what is funny and makes them stand up together. David Romtvedt is like a loyal consul who represents a species that has done some terrible things: undeluded, he still loves us, and keeps laying out more high-hearted policies for us all." -Carol Bly

"The poems in Certainty... bear witness to all of the difficulties of life today but also ambush numbness, despair and grief with quiet and powerful compassion." -Mekeel McBride

"In these beautiful, unusual pieces, David Romtvedt strips his voice to only that which he can say with certainty. The results are medidations- heart, magic, insights, irony, comedy, surrealism, the deepest storytelling, and a surprising, very moving masculinity." -Sharon Doubiago