2 Poems by Norman Dubie


Voices moving over a North Atlantic
cable, the cold water
making yellow glyphs like weird melons
on the sea floor. The moon
interrupts them
now clearing its throat.
My sister says she’s felt
hopeless most of this day.
She expects more of the same tomorrow.



A gray plate of steaming mussels
and a draught saucer
of butter with floating slivers of garlic—
Van Gogh coughs an affirmation
at his brother who puts
his brown cigarette on the edge of the table—
he walks down
the long street. He entered
the rain, leaving the green awning.
Each passing second they are
somewhat more distant. They’re
both infected with syphilis.
Theo is visiting his new girlfriend. She is
not suffering with his infection.

He gives her a dripping wet
bouquet of stolen calamus.
In fact, Theo thinks
she is still a virgin. She isn’t.
In less than a decade they all are
dead and buried. The two brothers
believe in the superstition
of posterity. Her syphilis actually
was congenital. As of last April
all of them were entirely virginal.
They do remain my best and only
imaginary friends. I like
a feint of mustard with my mussels.
I like the rain.


Norman Dubie’s most recent collection of poems is The Quotations of Bone (Copper Canyon Press, 2015), winner of the International Griffin Poetry Prize. He has recently completed two manuscripts, The Egg Clock and Robert Schumann is Mad Again. He teaches at Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ.

Elijah Tubbs