In Chandler Country

By Dana Gioia b. 1950 Dana Gioia
California night. The Devil’s wind,   
the Santa Ana, blows in from the east,   
raging through the canyon like a drunk   
screaming in a bar.
                            The air tastes like
a stubbed-out cigarette. But why complain?   
The weather’s fine as long as you don’t breathe.   
Just lean back on the sweat-stained furniture,   
lights turned out, windows shut against the storm,   
and count your blessings.
                                     Another sleepless night,
when every wrinkle in the bedsheet scratches   
like a dry razor on a sunburned cheek,   
when even ten-year whiskey tastes like sand,   
and quiet women in the kitchen run   
their fingers on the edges of a knife
and eye their husbands’ necks. I wish them luck.

Tonight it seems that if I took the coins
out of my pocket and tossed them in the air   
they’d stay a moment glistening like a net   
slowly falling through dark water.
                                                   I remember
the headlights of the cars parked on the beach,   
the narrow beams dissolving on the dark   
surface of the lake, voices arguing
about the forms, the crackling radio,   
the sheeted body lying on the sand,
the trawling net still damp beside it. No,
she wasn’t beautiful—but at that age
when youth itself becomes a kind of beauty—
“Taking good care of your clients, Marlowe?”

Relentlessly the wind blows on. Next door   
catching a scent, the dogs begin to howl.   
Lean, furious, raw-eyed from the storm,   
packs of coyotes come down from the hills   
where there is nothing left to hunt.

Dana Gioia, “In Chandler Country” from Daily Horoscope. Copyright © 1986 by Dana Gioia. Reprinted with the permission of Graywolf Press, St. Paul, Minnesota, www.graywolfpress.org.

Source: Daily Horoscope: Poems (Graywolf Press, 1986)

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Poet Dana Gioia b. 1950

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Subjects Reading & Books, Crime & Punishment, Arts & Sciences, Social Commentaries, Humor & Satire

 Dana  Gioia

Biography

It seems almost a requirement for a poet to have an unconventional résumé, but Dana Gioia’s is perhaps notable for being so conventionally unpoetic. A graduate of Stanford Business School, Gioia claims to be “the only person, in history, who went to business school to be a poet.” He later rose to become a vice president at General Foods, where he marketed products such as Kool-Aid. These experiences in the corporate world, Gioia . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Reading & Books, Crime & Punishment, Arts & Sciences, Social Commentaries, Humor & Satire

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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