Norman Dubie


An annual of the dark physics

The Baltic Sea froze in 1307. Birds flew north
From the Mediterranean in early January.
There were meteor storms throughout Europe.

On the first day of Lent
Two children took their own lives:
Their bodies
Were sewn into goatskins
And were dragged by the hangman’s horse
The three miles down to the sea.
They were given a simple grave in the sand.

The following Sunday, Meister Eckhart
Shouted that a secret word
Had been spoken to him. He preached


The General’s men sit at the door. Her eyes
Are fat with belladonna. She’s naked
Except for the small painted turtles
That are drinking a flammable cloud
Of rum and milk from her navel.

The ships out in the harbor
Are loosely allied
Like casks floating in bilge.
The occasional light on a ship
Winks. In the empty room of the manuscript
Someone is grooming you
For the long entrance into the dark city.

Grand illusion

It is not 1937 for long. A clump of ash trees and a walk
Down the the boathouse: inside linen is tacked up
In a long blank mural; the children sit on the wings
Of the dry dock, and then, over the water in a circle
Of rowboats, the aunts and uncles wait while
At their center the projectionist, Jean Renoir,
On a cedar raft, casts silhouettes of rabbits, birds,
And turtles for the sleepy children. Corks
Come out of old bottles, it is a few minutes past sunset
And, now, a swimmer beside the raft looks

Her monologue of dark crepe with edges of light:

Mistress Adrienne, I have been given a bed with a pink dresser
In the hothouse
Joining the Concord Public Library: the walls and roof are
Glass and my privacy comes from the apple-geraniums,
Violets, ferns, marigolds, and white mayflags.
I get my meals
With the janitor and his wife and all of the books are mine
To use. I scour, sweep, and dust.
I hope you don’t think of me
As a runaway? I remember your kindness,
Your lessons in reading and writing on the piazza.
My journey was unusual. I saw some of the war

Oration: Half-moon in vermont

A horse is shivering flies off its ribs, grazing
Through the stench of a sodden leachfield.

On the broken stairs of a trailer
A laughing fat girl in a T-shirt is pumping
Milk from her swollen breasts, cats
Lapping at the trails. There's a sheen of rhubarb
On her dead fingernail. It's a humid morning.

The huts at esquimax

for Dave Smith
Our clothes are still wet from wading
The Chickamunga last evening.
There is heavy frost. We have
Walked on the dead all night.
Now in the firelight
We are exchanging shells and grapeshot.

I can still hear our loud huzzah
When late in the day
The enemy fell into full retreat
Along the pine ridge to the east...

We chased them until we were weary.
Each night this week
There’s been something
To keep me from sleep. Just an hour ago
I saw

Thomas hardy

The first morning after anyone’s death, is it important
To know that fields are wet, that the governess is
Naked but with a scarf still covering her head, that
She’s sitting on a gardener who’s wearing
Just a blue shirt, or that he’s sitting on a chair in the kitchen.
They look like they are rowing while instead outside in the mist
Two boats are passing on the river, the gardener’s mouth
Is opening: