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Best Famous Norman Dubie Poems

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by Norman Dubie |

February: The Boy Breughel

 The birches stand in their beggar's row:
Each poor tree
Has had its wrists nearly
Torn from the clear sleeves of bone,
These icy trees
Are hanging by their thumbs
Under a sun
That will begin to heal them soon,
Each will climb out
Of its own blue, oval mouth;
The river groans,
Two birds call out from the woods

And a fox crosses through snow
Down a hill; then, he runs,
He has overcome something white
Beside a white bush, he shakes
It twice, and as he turns
For the woods, the blood in the snow

Looks like the red fox,
At a distance, running down the hill:
A white rabbit in his mouth killed
By the fox in snow
Is killed over and over as just
Two colors, now, on a winter hill:

Two colors! Red and white.
A barber's bowl! Two colors like the peppers In the windows Of the town below the hill.
Smoke comes From the chimneys.
Everything is still.
Ice in the river begins to move, And a boy in a red shirt who woke A moment ago Watches from his window The street where an ox Who's broken out of his hut Stands in the fresh snow Staring cross-eyed at the boy Who smiles and looks out Across the roof to the hill; And the sun is reaching down Into the woods Where the smoky red fox still Eats his kill.
Two colors.
Just two colors! A sunrise.
The snow.


by Norman Dubie |

At Corfu

 In seventeen hundred, a much hated sultan
visited us twice, finally
dying of headaches in the south harbor.
Ever since, visitors have come to the island.
They bring their dogs and children.
The ferry boat with a red cross freshly painted on it lifts in uneven drafts of smoke and steam devising the mustard horizon that is grotesque with purple thunderheads.
In the rising winds the angry sea birds circle the trafficking winter ghosts who are electric like the locusts at Patmos.
They are gathering sage in improvised slings along the hillsides, they are the lightning strikes scattering wild cats from the bone yard: here, since the war, fertilizer trucks have idled much like the island itself.
We blame the wild cats who have eaten all the jeweled yellow snakes of the island.
When sufficiently distant, the outhouses have a sweetness like frankincense.
A darker congregation, we think the last days began when they stripped the postage stamps of their lies and romance.
The chaff of the hillsides rises like a cramp, defeating a paring of moon .
.
.
its hot, modest conjunction of planets .
.
.
And with this sudden hard rain the bells on the ferry boat begin a long elicit angelus.
Two small Turkish boys run out into the storm-- here, by superstition, they must laugh and sing--like condemned lovers, ashen and kneeling, who are being washed by their dead grandmothers' grandmothers.


by Norman Dubie |

Sky Harbor

 The flock of pigeons rises over the roof,
and just beyond them, the shimmering asphalt fields
gather their dull colored airliners.
It is the very early night, a young brunette sits before the long darkening glass of the airport's west wall.
She smells coffee burning and something else-- her old mother's bureau filled with mothballs.
Her nearly silver blouse smells of anise and the heat of an iron.
She suddenly brushes sleep from her hair.
I have been dead for hours.
The brunette witness to nothing studies her new lipstick smeared on a gray napkin.
The fires of a cremation tank are rising.
.
.
she descends into Seattle nervous over the blinking city lights that are climbing to meet her flight.
The old man seated next to her closes his book.
He has recognized her.
And leans into the window to whisper, nothing happens.
Nothing ever happens.


by Norman Dubie |

Of Politics and Art

 for Allen


Here, on the farthest point of the peninsula
The winter storm
Off the Atlantic shook the schoolhouse.
Mrs.
Whitimore, dying Of tuberculosis, said it would be after dark Before the snowplow and bus would reach us.
She read to us from Melville.
How in an almost calamitous moment Of sea hunting Some men in an open boat suddenly found themselves At the still and protected center Of a great herd of whales Where all the females floated on their sides While their young nursed there.
The cold frightened whalers Just stared into what they allowed Was the ecstatic lapidary pond of a nursing cow's One visible eyeball.
And they were at peace with themselves.
Today I listened to a woman say That Melville might Be taught in the next decade.
Another woman asked, "And why not?" The first responded, "Because there are No women in his one novel.
" And Mrs.
Whitimore was now reading from the Psalms.
Coughing into her handkerchief.
Snow above the windows.
There was a blue light on her face, breasts, and arms.
Sometimes a whole civilization can be dying Peacefully in one young woman, in a small heated room With thirty children Rapt, confident and listening to the pure God-rendering voice of a storm.


by Norman Dubie |

The Czars Last Christmas Letter: A Barn in the Urals

 You were never told, Mother, how old Illyawas drunk
That last holiday, for five days and nights

He stumbled through Petersburg forming
A choir of mutes, he dressed them in pink ascension gowns

And, then, sold Father's Tirietz stallion so to rent
A hall for his Christmas recital: the audience

Was rowdy but Illya in his black robes turned on them
And gave them that look of his; the hall fell silent

And violently he threw his hair to the side and up
Went the baton, the recital ended exactly one hour

Later when Illya suddenly turned and bowed
And his mutes bowed, and what applause and hollering

Followed.
All of his cronies were there! Illya told us later that he thought the voices Of mutes combine in a sound Like wind passing through big, winter pines.
Mother, if for no other reason I regret the war With Japan for, you must now be told, It took the servant, Illya, from us.
It was confirmed.
He would sit on the rocks by the water and with his stiletto Open clams and pop the raw meats into his mouth And drool and laugh at us children.
We hear guns often, now, down near the village.
Don't think me a coward, Mother, but it is comfortable Now that I am no longer Czar.
I can take pleasure From just a cup of clear water.
I hear Illya's choir often.
I teach the children about decreasing fractions, that is A lesson best taught by the father.
Alexandra conducts the French and singing lessons.
Mother, we are again a physical couple.
I brush out her hair for her at night.
She thinks that we'll be rowing outside Geneva By the spring.
I hope she won't be disappointed.
Yesterday morning while bread was frying In one corner, she in another washed all of her legs Right in front of the children.
I think We became sad at her beauty.
She has a purple bruise On an ankle.
Like Illya I made her chew on mint.
Our Christmas will be in this excellent barn.
The guards flirt with your granddaughters and I see.
.
.
I see nothing wrong with it.
Your little one, who is Now a woman, made one soldier pose for her, she did Him in charcoal, but as a bold nude.
He was Such an obvious virgin about it; he was wonderful! Today, that same young man found us an enormous azure And pearl samovar.
Once, he called me Great Father And got confused.
He refused to let me touch him.
I know they keep your letters from us.
But, Mother, The day they finally put them in my hands I'll know that possessing them I am condemned And possibly even my wife, and my children.
We will drink mint tea this evening.
Will each of us be increased by death? With fractions as the bottom integer gets bigger, Mother, it Represents less.
That's the feeling I have about This letter.
I am at your request, The Czar.
And I am Nicholas.