norman dubie





The bowl made from a tobacco-yellow skull

And the blood of a yearling ox

With seeds of quince floating in it.


An airliner


Flying low over the marshes

Of a thousand purpling ducks,

And the white dirt of ducks

Over the potato fields.


The lightning starts in granite and forsythia scrub,

The missiles of nettle

Rising in dark sky. Animations of a night bureau

And cedar boards around the dead poet’s button accordion.

Emphysema of sound


From the stars

Where we follow the fires down to the ground.

The lightning-scrawls

From boulder to pasturage

To a horse-chestnut tree – cry of killdeer –

That stands like the government agent

With ears of the buddha.


Sprays of rhododendron

Across the caskets of French merchants,

Their daughters and the stewardess

From Marseilles who hurriedly

Washed her speckled breasts in talcum.


The breath taken away

While her wrathful guardian,

A funnel-bird that climbs

Into the wind ploughing air

Over the north Atlantic, tips –


Orange fuel running to the fires.

The black box intoxicated with quiet.

It falls into the sea.

Carbuncle-rubies in the mouths

Of the dead who are swimming toward me.


Charlie Chaplin under a canopy

Of oaks, this poor light

Of the street, where he drags

A burnt, open suitcase along a cobbled relief . . .

The white length of it unrolling:

Butcher paper with a kindergarten’s fingerpaint

Imbibing it.


Charlie studies the children’s augury:

A fresh pond, red trains, sled dogs

Moving their bowels in harness . . .

A diagonal sleet.


He is ignoring the small boy

Who runs ahead of the milk truck

Delivering newspapers

To the porches of the neighborhood.


On the front page below the index and weather

The platinum ink of a man standing

In a Mercedes-touring, in Rome:


Some goitered gnome, anti-Christ

Of the suburban twilight, waving to us – saying:


Friends, I am the lightning strike

That starts with sky, lake of fire,


Dry and erudite – awaken, husband and wife,

We are now mice in the field

Frightened by the red fattening crest

Of three small fires circling

The wreckage of a blue and white Cessna:

The great folding lung of the accordions

Sending a message

Out of the phosphorus afterlife

Of our rising sun.

      Something has begun . . .