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by Todd Hearon
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Strange Land by Todd Hearon
Todd Hearon
Southern Illinois University Press
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Todd Hearon’s haunting debut collection chronicles the twin paths of isolation and desire in the search for meaning and union with others. On his pilgrimage through the lost worlds of earth and the soul, the speaker encounters drought in both the literal and spiritual sense as he confronts desolate landscapes, from the brown remnants of ruined cities, to the depths of the human heart and man’s capacity for utter destruction. Yet even though he frequently encounters darkness, he never ceases to seek beauty. He is a man who wears many faces, from Adam, staring down a bleak future bereft of Paradise, to the doomed poet Shelley, drowned off the coast of Italy. He speaks as a man adrift in his own life, seeking an answer to his emptiness, an estranged traveler through memory and longing. Lyrical and intense, Strange Land is a quest for understanding and human connection.


Strange Land 

It goes without saying

a word:  the world under cover

of midnight snow, what we have known

of pageantry and lilac, leaf and song

subsumed in starless silence.

Waking at dawn into the tremulous blue

of the room, as in earth’s afterglow,

we lie, lidless, listening, as crows

call out the ear’s horizons.

What year is it?  Into what country were we born

and now must make our way?  Outside the pane

the stillness feels ancestral but the ghosts

not yours, not mine.  My émigré,

we are cut off.  An ocean to the east

churns in chiaroscuro while unseen

ranges to the south deflect our passage,

what passage might have been.

This country seems the passing of a dream

to a moonscape’s still immitigable white,

a land’s amnesia where against the sky

three needling black birds fly

and slip like an ellipsis out of sight.

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