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Published: Mon Sep 30 2019
Salman Toor, Fag Puddle with Candle, Shoe, and Flag (detail), 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, N.Y. Photo: Farzad Owrang.

The chimney is hoarse.
Under doors,

the weather stripping’s loose.
Another lightning flash. Grumblesome Zeus.

Twice I’ve woken with a wet nose in my eye.
Poor dog. He quakes with the sky.

It’s just thunder, old pup,
I mutter irritably. His fallible pope.

I call him a cowardly cur.
I counsel courage.

I advise him to master his fear.
To hear

is to obey: he obeys.
Aye-aye, Boss,

he seems to say with his crazed eyes,
rigid, shaking uncontrollably on the floor

beside my bed. I’ll try.
But you don’t hear what I hear.

Richard Kenney has published four books of poetry: The Evolution of the Flightless Bird (Yale University Press, 1984), Orrery (Atheneum, 1985), The Invention of the Zero (Knopf, 1993) and The One-Strand River (Knopf, 2008). His work has appeared in many magazines and journals, including The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, AGNI, and The American Scholar, and he has won the Rome Prize in Literature, a Lannan Literary Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim and MacArthur foundations. He teaches at the University of Washington, in Seattle. (updated 10/2008)

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