poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

About this Poem 

“The world is split, and in more than half of it passion plays itself out in slow motion, a creaturely nobility is in place. I live on the water, and if I can catch sight of a large softshell turtle turning its way back to deep water as my canoe crosses over it, I consider myself lucky. In the third line the poem turns slightly frantic. The speaker must act. It’s a poem about desire/beauty and the problem/gift of mortality. It’s therefore also a love poem. And also plays with ideas of reincarnation. When man and creature meet on a path, we know we are in the same world, although I feel like the interloper. Sometimes you meet a human being who is similarly wild at heart.”

—David Dodd Lee

Suffering the Unattainable

David Dodd Lee

Large sea turtles and some whales
will outlive us, water a manifestation of wind in

   another dimension.
I had to use the shovel to hack at the wood, had to grab

a hatchet, down deep in the hole. The oak pitched around
like a ship’s mast, or I was no longer alive; perhaps I was yet

    to be
all over again, though I kept recalling your name. The verdurous roots.

Copyright @ 2014 by David Dodd Lee. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on July 16, 2014.

Copyright @ 2014 by David Dodd Lee. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on July 16, 2014.

David Dodd Lee

David Dodd Lee is the author of Animalities (Four Way Books, 2014). He teaches at Indiana University South Bend and lives in Osceola, Indiana.

by this poet

It begins early, arc crumbling over the yard with its salt bird baths.
Then you dream of the banister gleaming, your hand
from atop the stairs gripping a tiny casket. Heat gathers above the
   local graveyard
that dusts so resolutely the young men's shoes with its flags.
This is where the shadows meet the white
A block of soap
carved to look like Pan

and that's just what came in the mail

a volcano under those flip flops

kisses spilling off the water-wheel

Green becomes a stillness leftover in the late-born effluence
of a decade's worth of smoke and flat beer

(I can't get any air)

because there was no
My hand became my father's hand 
that day, 
for a second or two, as I lifted the fish, and I could feel his loneliness, 
my father's, like mine,

a horse in a stall spooked by guttering candles, 
the popping and black smoke, the quivering flanks.

And if a horse, in its loneliness, couldn't manage