Vapor Trail Reflected in the Frog Pond

By Galway Kinnell 1927–2014 Galway Kinnell
The old watch: their
thick eyes
puff and foreclose by the moon. The young, heads   
trailed by the beginnings of necks,
in the guarantee they shall be bodies.

In the frog pond
the vapor trail of a SAC bomber creeps,

I hear its drone, drifting, high up   
in immaculate ozone.

And I hear,
coming over the hills, America singing,
her varied carols I hear:
crack of deputies' rifles practicing their aim on stray dogs at night,   
sput of cattleprod,
TV going on about the smells of the human body,
curses of the soldier as he poisons, burns, grinds, and stabs   
the rice of the world,
with open mouth, crying strong, hysterical curses.

And by paddies in Asia
wearing a few shadows
walk down a dirt road, smashed   
bloodsuckers on their heel, knowing   
flesh thrown down in the sunshine   
dogs shall eat
and flesh flung into the air
shall be seized by birds,
shoulder blades smooth, unmarked by old feather-holes,   
hands rivered
by blue, erratic wanderings of the blood,   
eyes crinkled shut at almost seeing   
the drifting sun that gives us our lives.

Galway Kinnell, “Vapor Trail Reflected in the Frog Pond” from Three Books. Copyright © 2002 by Galway Kinnell. Reprinted with the permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved,

Source: Three Books (2002)

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Poet Galway Kinnell 1927–2014

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects War & Conflict, Social Commentaries

Holidays Memorial Day

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Galway  Kinnell


Galway Kinnell was an award-winning poet best known for poetry that connects the experiences of daily life to much larger poetic, spiritual, and cultural forces. Often focusing on the claims of nature and society on the individual, Kinnell’s poems explore psychological states in precise and sonorous free verse. Critic Morris Dickstein called Kinnell “one of the true master poets of his generation.” Dickstein added, “there are . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT War & Conflict, Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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