Donald Revell is the author of seven collections of poetry, most recently of Arcady (2002) and There Are Three (1998), both from Wesleyan University Press. He is a professor of English at the University of Utah.


The heat blew through my spine into my heart.
My back was to it, to the sun.
I crouched, and pain came.
I stood, and there was none.

You know, the wind is a dozen things.
Across my road, where the abandoned cars
Make a mansion-heap, poplars
Mimic tentacles, exactly 12, in the dusty air.

My desert is just beginning.
A little while from now, I will abandon my body,
And a few years after that, the Chinese

Will abandon Peking because of dust storms
Oranging their skies, choking their athletes.
You know, God is the sun truly, and He moves fast.


I'm told
The trees have disappeared from their boughs.
Yellow roses and red roses clematis
Climbs our standing Buddhas now.

Lords, resound like a cornet band
Right across this mayhem.
Lords, assort the live from the dead shades,
And move the flowers near.

I was told
To make a garden and not to care.
Of what I could not know of ant's wing
And detachment that aches deathly ache,
I made it, and I turned my back on it.
The ants crawled to me. Scent of flowers
Broke free of the vines and sweetened me.

Lords, your music comes through the back of my head.
Lords, your justice stripes me with tendrils of fat pollen.

Before and after itself, the garden minds me.
Here is an ant to guard the ant, and a vine
To cover the wall where the wind breaks it.
Here is a love governs death, and it turns me
Right round to the clematis, and gives me
A yellow wing and a red wing.
I don't care what its name is,
And it cuts my name in a tree
Midway up into the boughs.


Unusual things
We find this side
Of exhaustion
Waking before
Our faces open
To sun's work
Which is to rest
As the bees will
Not very long
And hollyhocks
Flash on the wall
But not for long

Seeing something's changed.