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About this poet

Dara Wier was born in Louisiana on December 30, 1949. She received her M.F.A. in 1974 from Bowling Green State University.

Wier is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including You Good Thing (Wave Books, 2013); Selected Poems (2009); Remnants of Hannah (2006); Reverse Rapture (2005), which received the 2006 SFSU Poetry Center Book Award; Hat On a Pond (2002); Voyages in English (2001); Our Master Plan (1998), which received the Phi Beta Kappa Award; Blue for the Plough (1992); The Book of Knowledge (1988); All You Have in Common (1984); The 8-Step Grapevine (1980); and Blood, Hook & Eye (1977).

About her work, John Ashbery has said: "It may not be for the faint of heart—most intense experiences aren't—but those who stay with it will find themselves face to face with a world whose eerily sharp focus suggests recent satellite photographs of Mars. And they will never be the same again."

The Harvard Review has said "Recalling at moments the philosophical comedy of Wallace Stevens and Wislawa Szymborska, many of Wier's colloquial stanzas draw a reader away from a recognizable world into one in which women waltz with bears, houseflies chat with colonels, and the absence of sound makes a material presence."

Her work has been included in recent volumes of Best American Poetry and The Pushcart Prize Anthology. Her poetry has been supported by fellowships and awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and the American Poetry Review. In 2005, she held the Rubin Distinguished Chair at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia.

She teaches workshops and form and theory seminars and directs the M.F.A. program for poets and writers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she lives with her husband, the poet James Tate.

Blue Oxen

Dara Wier, 1949
(it’s scaffolding) (it’s supposed to be temporary) 
(the domino effect) (had been forgotten about)
(it was in storage) (nobody knew where)
(that’s a logging road) (you can see its gutters)
(they leave handprints) (they shudder with dolor)
(nobody could settle on any particular color)
(they meant different things to different people)
(for luck) (on the cheap) (stop now) (flesh for sale)
(fresh fruit) (insect free) (aquafarm) (moon control)

(it was label-resistant) (nobody knew how to embroider
it) (it felt like hailstones) (big as tombstones)
(it strained everyone’s intelligence) (we had tooth
problems) (we’d been flying too much) (our edges
were curling) (we were like silt over sand) (we felt
as if we were sugar dissolving in lime juice) (it
was heavy-handed) (we were covered with treadmarks)
(it was cosmetic) (like crystal handcuffs) (we were
fish then) (we wanted our ladders) (most of them were

rotten) (we can cut down some trees and build new
ones) (we can contrive it out of convection) 
(say you’re a weatherman) (seed them some clouds)
(remember how it felt to be scuds on a mountain)
(we had good motivations) (like treeroots buckling
up sidewalks) (we worked like treeroots) (we’d go
anywhere looking for water) (we were hydrologists
then) (we had stewpots) (we were fast-breaking)
(we were aerosol) (we had currency) (we were paper

airplanes) (our creases were in all the right places)
(we hadn’t been stratified so many times) (it was 
because they were eye-minded) (they couldn’t see us)
(we weren’t eyefuls) (we were just something to take
note of when they weren’t working) (we were like
scrimshaw) (you were one of the ones covered with flags
and lady liberty) (she was an eyeful) (we were hay
rolls) (then we were haywire) (we needed paperweights)
(we needed dollys) (it was money-laundering they did

as a sideline) (one little cooking fire stirred up
all of that cloudcover) (we were walking through a
ghosttown) (it was a terrestrial globe) (it wasn’t
any bigger than an eyeball) (it was at the bottom
of a fishbowl) (there weren’t any fish in it) (the
water was gone) (and it looked as if it had been con-
signed to oblivion) (do you still have it) (it’s
somewhere around) (we tried to put it in a safe place)
(in one of the treetrunks) (act like a lumberjack)

(show them your blue ox) (your animal companion)
(show them the marks left where you merged)
(they said they were covered with scruples)
(they needed some tearlifts) (you can seed them
with dryice) (that will use up all of the liquid
assets we have left) (then we can sell off some of
the dunking contraptions) (we don’t need them)
(we can act the way hummingbirds act) (we can fight
the way hummingbirds fight) (you can wear your red

vest) (you can wear your red cowboy hat) (it looks
awful) (as if it were made for television) (the
worst kind) (remember the scripts that were written
to teach us something) (past the stratosphere the
sky isn’t blue anymore) (we were unteachable)
(we were woodblocks) (we lived in a sawmill)
(when there was lightning) (it nearly burned down)
(we were unwashed) (we were scoured) (we felt untouch-
able) (and somewhat equivocal again in our science)

(you were always exact to me) (like a storm cellar)
(I liked it near your airstreams) (you never called
me a social parasite and I felt good about that)
(you never said things like the handwriting is on the
wall) (you never said we were biding our time) (you
weren’t a warden) (you weren’t a damper) (you didn’t
live in a chimney) (you didn’t work for management)
(we were still under construction) (there were
warning signs all over us) (in that shocking pink

orange) (like we’d been pickled) (as if we were beets
or some other kind of root vegetables) (you weren’t
a gladiator) (you weren’t resistant) (you weren’t 
a virus) (you didn’t know what a firewall was)
(sometimes you did do a little fire-breathing)
(not like a firebrand) (more like a fire that some-
one banked in the evening waiting around until
morning) (there were streets of clouds over the
plains) (we were ice crystals) (laboratory grade)

Copyright © 2005 by Dara Wier. From Reverse Rapture. Reprinted with permission of Verse Press.

Dara Wier

Dara Wier

Born in 1949, poet Dara Weir is the author of numerous collections of poetry

by this poet

poem

The pressure of the moment can cause someone to kill someone or something

The leniency of consideration might treat with more kindness

Which is to be desired. Or at least often to be desired.

But if my house is on fire and you notice, I wish you would kill

That fire. But if my hair is on

poem
A wolf had grown tired of his character and sought
to find a means to transform himself into something 
more vicious, more deadly. While his coat was slick,
thick and well-colored, for he was an excellent hunter,
he yearned for something to do that had nothing to do 
with survival or instinct. He no longer
poem
How many seasons are there?
Where was God born?
How many stars?
Who discovered every single one of the Americas and all of the other places?
Do some dwarves live in caves?
Is your mother singing in church tonight?
Is your father setting his hat on his head?
Do those goldfish belong to you?
Why did their God rise