Lance Lee





Report from the Front



Everything tumbles together, syringa

in bloom, sweet clover on the air,

the earth’s breath between showers,

bitterns poised to strike unwary fish

who abandon their granite posts

with staccato QUAWKQuawkquawks!

when I come too close;

muskrat who ignores me

as she parts the water with her nose,

twigs for her den in her teeth;

and hissing snapper with jaws

even death respects

who slides into tall grass

that trembles at his passage.

Not far from this suburban edge

semis from Quebec roll by

with cargoes of furs, blocks of ice,

cedar sprays, antlers, Eskimo songs

and shrieks of children from farthest north

where they fence small squares of sky

from wilderness and polar bears. I want

to link all these in a causal chain,

as though I am he who knows, weighs,

            values, names—

but only this moment by moment teeming

answers my hunger for sense.




Lance Lee is a past Fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts. Homecomings, his sixth poetry book, appeared in 2015. He has also published A Poetics for Screenwriting,  Second Chances a novel), and Time’s Up & Other Plays. He lives in Los Angeles and spends several months annually in London.

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