At the Bomb Testing Site

By William E. Stafford 1914–1993
At noon in the desert a panting lizard   
waited for history, its elbows tense,   
watching the curve of a particular road   
as if something might happen.

It was looking at something farther off   
than people could see, an important scene   
acted in stone for little selves
at the flute end of consequences.

There was just a continent without much on it   
under a sky that never cared less.   
Ready for a change, the elbows waited.   
The hands gripped hard on the desert.

William Stafford, “At the Bomb Testing Site” from The Way It Is: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 1998 by William Stafford. Reprinted with the permission of Graywolf Press, St. Paul, Minnesota, www.graywolfpress.org.

Source: The Way It Is: New and Selected Poems (Graywolf Press, 1998)

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Poet William E. Stafford 1914–1993

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

Subjects War & Conflict, History & Politics, Social Commentaries, Animals, Nature

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 William E. Stafford

Biography

"If you have been wondering where the articulate, readable poems have gone in the last third of the 20th century, you might start with [William] Stafford," declares Victor Howes of the Christian Science Monitor. A pacifist and one of "the quiet of the land," as he often describes himself, Stafford is known for his unique method of composition, his soft-spoken voice, and his independence from social and literary expectations. As

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT War & Conflict, History & Politics, Social Commentaries, Animals, Nature

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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