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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, March 30, 2017.
About this Poem 

“In a dark time, what is the work of a syllabus? What is the function of a classroom? What does it mean to teach students about the values of close reading and critical thinking?”
—Jehanne Dubrow

Syllabus for the Dark Ahead

Throughout this course,
we’ll study the American
landscape of our yard, coiled line

of the garden hose,
muddy furrows in the grass
awaiting our analysis,

what’s called close reading
of the ground. And somewhere
something will yip in pain

perhaps, a paw caught in a wire,
or else the furred and oily
yowling of desire.

And flickering beyond the fence,
we’ll see the slatted lives
of strangers. The light

above a neighbor’s porch
will be a test of how we tolerate
the half-illumination

of uncertainty, a glow
that’s argument to shadow.
Or if not that, we’ll write an essay

on the stutter of the bulb,
the little glimmering that goes
before the absolute of night.
 

Copyright © 2017 by Jehanne Dubrow. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 30, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Jehanne Dubrow. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 30, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Jehanne Dubrow

Jehanne Dubrow

Jehanne Dubrow is the author of four poetry collections, including most recently Red Army Red (TriQuarterly Books, 2012) and Stateside (TriQuarterly Books, 2010). She is director of the Rose O’Neill Literary House and an associate professor of creative writing at Washington College, where she edits the national literary journal, Cherry Tree.

by this poet

poem

Squint a little, and that’s my husband
           in the photograph, the sailor on the left—
the one wearing a rose composed of ink
           and the Little Bo Peep who stands
before a tiny setting sun and the blur
           on his forearm which might be a boat—
while the sailor on

poem
He kisses me before he goes. While I,
still dozing, half-asleep, laugh and rub my face

against the sueded surface of the sheets,
thinking it’s him I touch, his skin beneath

my hands, my body curving in to meet
his body there. I never hear him leave.

But I believe he shuts the bedroom door,
as though unsure if
poem

Even on weekends the cruiser 
            would shudder, flicker spaces
                      with a redorange blink,

then a gasket crack or a valve stick shut
as if by weather or malicious hands,
                      the engine room home

            of all catastrophe.