Poems of the Week


A Nativity Canvas for My Daughter

July 18, 1969

Theo is still dreaming of the trees’
deposits of copper and fleece
and the rouge fleshy wings of an angel
with bad teeth
holding a torch to a wall
where the dragging automatic hand
paints us in red and ochre—
the message is simple, come
over, come over now,
the small wooden boats
have only the appearance of cows
climbing in the mist
while the sowers enter the fields
not quite awake
with their slings spilling seeds
for the organizing crows
in their dim seasonal disbelief—
not the usual mischief of feeding,
more a moment of grace and sudden snow.

The Canvas Boat

A clean fog off slowly boiling macaroni,
a palette stone with ochre and rouge—
long brushes like dead muskrats
and a row of wild onions
with knuckles of garlic
obviating the solitary Dutch painter’s
whistling while crushing azure,
crushing azure—everyone is dead
so this is the place to do this—
his blouse on fire with moon.


I am not a costume
stuffed with the organs of deer
and possum—a bucket
of huckleberries from the distant meadows.
They shot me
twice in the stomach
with dimes. The truck dragging
me for miles along
the creek. Ideas
die hard is what
the car salesman said to my wife
after cleaning his boots and his knife.

Landmine: Field of Copper Wings

We are the swimmers, with legs and arms.

We sleep beside the river
and dream of the Joshua tree…

In the mountains of Afghanistan

there are swarming bees
painted across the smokehouse door
so we will remember

the soft meaty comb, the shelf
of gore.


all from Norman Dubie’s The Volcano.

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