Not Quite Noon by Paul Naylor


At once personal & impersonal, Not Quite Noon records two hikes twenty years apart in the same high mountain area. Naylor’s writing & thinking are deeply shaped by Zen & Daoist texts: could one have better guides than Lao Tzu, Dogen, and Shunryu Suzuki? Deeply informed by geological fact, the trail leads inward to the shifting tectonics of mind, language, self, aging, & perspective. The path of words & the trail itself match one another: “words appear/ on screen/ like a trail/ beneath one’s feet.” What Naylor seeks to learn from the astonishing vistas is what seeing is, which is linked to his endeavor to free thinking from the habitual: “Who thinks they are inside thinking? Where do the words we think come from – inside or outside? They frame us, but who frames them? No photo shows.” Naylor, by means of the second hike, learns what his task or practice is as poet: “Clouds don’t cling to sky, so why do thoughts cling to mind? I’d like to write about that. About thatness, suchness, or thusness. Tathātā in Sanskrit, Immo in Japanese. Titcomb Basin is that which thus.” Who can ask for more than arriving at a clear sense of one’s calling? Quietly, & virtually out of sight, the somewhat hermetic Paul Naylor is becoming one of our most engaging, thoughtful, & accomplished poets! —Hank Lazer

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  • Kind: Perfectbound
  • Pages: 104
  • Language: English
  • Date Published: March, 2020
  • ISBN: 978-1-948017-74-9


Here are two strikingly metaphysical poems set twenty years apart in the Wind River Wilderness of Wyoming. Working through a long tradition of Zen practice, poetry, and meditative walking, Paul Naylor has wrought poems that feel to your hands and feet like trails twisting around scree and talus. Each step is a carefully crafted philosophy made of words as much as rock. At night the stars wheel so close and mythically overhead you can reach up and touch their sharp edges. How do twenty years pass? What does a coyote or grizzly bear do at night? Where do the dead go? Not Quite Noon gives a hint. —Andrew Schelling


I am not, like Descartes,
wearing a winter robe tonight.
Levi’s and a fleece jacket fit my needs.

I am, as he was, sitting by a fire—
but I don’t want to rid myself
of all worries and concerns,
like my mother’s death last fall.

Or the wind
blowing embers
from the fire
too close to my tent—

none of which
should be left out
even if possible,

which I doubt more than I sit here
alone but not unaccompanied.


Paul NaylorNot Quite Noon is Paul Naylor’s seventh full-length book of poetry—following Playing Well With Others (Singing Horse Press, 2004), Arranging Nature (Chax Press, 2006), Jammed Transmission (Tinfish Press, 2009), Book of Changes (Shearsman Books, 2012),  Anarcheology (Talisman House Books, 2018), and Luminous Ruse (Tinfish Press, 2019).  He is also the author of Poetic Investigations: Singing the Holes in History (Northwestern University Press, 1999), a critical study of five contemporary poets—Susan Howe, Nathaniel Mackey, Lyn Hejinian, Kamau Brathwaite, and M. Nourbese Philip. He lives in San Diego with his wife, Debi, and daughter, Siena.

Additional information

Weight 7 oz
Dimensions 9 × 6 × .375 in