White Whale Review: An Online Literary Magazine Untitled Document
Norman Dubie
Norman Dubie is the author of twenty-four books, including most recently The Volcano (2010), The Insomniac Liar of Topo (2007), and Ordinary Mornings of a Coliseum (2004). His writing has been translated into more than thirty languages, and he is the recipient of the Bess Hokin Award from the Modern Poetry Association, the PEN USA prize for best poetry collection in 2001, and fellowships from the Ingram Merrill Foundation, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Dubie lives in Tempe, Arizona, and is Regents’ Professor of English at Arizona State University.
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Norman Dubie

The Journey to the Glaciers


              – January 31, 1793


Sister, yesterday a king lost his head.

While in Rome I suffered

the insomnia with fits of vision

for one long almost winter week.


Now, I’m walking through the mountains

which seem draped

in a light rouge of distant storms.

An amethyst combed cotton at the treeline.

No, I don’t think this is an end to time—

just to a king.


On the road for companions

I have employed two strong souls

and a spotted yellow donkey

who I believe is like you

spiritual. My sleep



Norman Dubie

was framed

with a window’s clarity

that’s better than glass—

more like ice is what I thought.


I heard one of my strong pilgrim friends

say that L.’s eyes fluttered

there in the blood-lace of the basket.


Impossibly, he said, was what he meant.


A window like ice is just what I thought—

some crows on the horizon have just formed

a larger congress

and they are still speaking to us

here on a cold wet evening. I am

in confidence, your brother, Charles.


Norman Dubie

Six Lines Refusing a Seventh


              for Susan Albright


Why is the river so slow and cold?

Because the snow has said, no.


Why does the sky bulge, lime?

Because the kneeling trees are that fine.


Why is the dead deer like lichen?

Because, with time, the ground must


adjust for all of us.


Norman Dubie

The Table


Her uncle said that back

from the war in the Pacific

he slept

successfully only while resting

on his good side

on this cool dark

Formica table. It was

like that for months

in the mental ward of a canvas

barracks hospital

on the big island… He was a radio man and he’d

dropped it like a big mud-splattered

loaf of bread

there on the beach—

the men who were still alive

were climbing back

into the boats

and his best friend said

George, you’re shaking man,

stay here, I’ll get it.

Reaching down, green and willowy in the sun,



Norman Dubie

for the black walkie-talkie,

he almost smiled at his friend

and then of course he was decapitated.

The uncle said to her

life’s like that

She thought: not!


Norman Dubie

The Sky Over Aztec, New Mexico


The distant olive trees are carrying fire

down to the river. Like a thousand wolves

brackish with seed and ova, the military

track them into the winter desert

and at the government bunkhouse

a woman with orange braids said

that all over the ground

there were dead aliens,


just broken leaky things,

who ‘died’ with the crash. She later saw

the one who survived, gray also

but with a raised pelt, seated on a toilet

reading The National Geographic

with an enormous blonde llama on the cover.


She knew remotely in her notebook

the alphabet of knots with a background

of slums in the city of Ur—

christmas lights dull in the moving fog

strung from tree to shack to tree…



Norman Dubie

And the children in red loin cloths

were eating clay tablets

like animal crackers. Some joke about the death


of Noah. She said the consensus

among the brass was

they flew down from the pine barrens

when the wind off the canyon floor

did an old hat trick on them—


burning pinwheels in the red earth

in the early morning light. Her cowboy friend


said it was duck soup with onions.

Earlier they were sucking water from a bright lake

with a thrashing in the savannah grasses. At least

that’s what the M.P. told him.

The cowboy insisting that they

originated on radar over South Africa

and shepherds of the night is what


our government chose to call them—

and she then repeats:



Norman Dubie

because of the holidays I guess,

or else

who might be the sheep?













Copyright © Norman Dubie. White Whale Review, issue 6.2

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