One Poem by Jeffrey Harrison

One Poem by Jeffrey Harrison

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Naïve Roofscape



Beyond the French doors leading out
to this fourth-floor rental’s balcony, open sky
above a pre-Cubist arrangement of
ochre walls, blue-gray shutters both open
and closed, and terra cotta roofs—all studded
with innumerable accessories and doodads:
small chimneys gathered in familial groups
and wearing metal caps, a Celtic cross
and two stone urns atop the church;
a gold ball below a flag-like weathervane
at the apex of a pyramidal tower,
the pointy, floppy tops of three cypresses
projecting up like elf hats; satellite dishes,
the metal skeletal wings of TV antennas,
and, best of all, the shiny cylindrical
vents whose tops, spinning like pinwheels,
flash festively with sunlight—all these
conduits and valves and instruments
that in one way or another mediate
between worlds, between a sky saturated
with sunlight and the streets below, noisy
with the cries of children on their way to school
and the clang of workers in blue jumpsuits
assembling a scaffolding against the wall
opposite, keeping it all from falling apart.




Jeffrey HarrisonJeffrey Harrison is the author of five books of poetry, most recently Into Daylight, published by Tupelo Press in 2014 as the winner of the Dorset Prize. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the NEA, and the Bogliasco Foundation, among other honors. His poems have appeared widely in magazines and journals, as well as in Best American Poetry 2016, Best American Poetry 2017, The Pushcart Prize Anthology, Poets of the New Century, The Twentieth Century in Poetry, and other anthologies, and been featured on The Writer’s Almanac and American Life in Poetry. He lives in Massachusetts. For more information, visit

Header photo, La Montagne Sainte-Victoire seen from the roofs of Aix-en-Provence in 2005, by Nicolas Brignol, courtesy Wikimedia.

Margins, by Ryan Schnurr
Margins is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, art, commentary, and design since 1998.