Destination Zero: Poems 1970 - 1995

Margaret Gibson

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Sam Hamill

White Pine Press: Fredonia, New York: 1995.

233 pp., $15.00 (paper).


Destination Zero is a selection of poems that according to their author, Sam Hamill, asks us to follow a “lifetime of learning to speak simply.” Hamill divides the book into five sections, each with its own coherence. By not organizing Destination Zero book by book, he has de-emphasized the record of literary milestones on the journey and focused us on the journey itself.

The epigraph to Destination Zero is from Basho: “The journey itself is home.” Home is destination zero, that way of being moment by moment so fully in and of the moment that one dwells nowhere. As a body of work, Hamill’s poems give voice to the rich tension of being oneself and no one, being home and uneasily in exile from that place where one already is.

I was a child of no country

but the country of the heart. I felt

the hands of the dead slide up

beneath my shirt.

And now, when I write or speak

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