By Carol Muske-Dukes b. 1945 Carol Muske-Dukes
Where the snow effigies stood   
hard-packed and hosed to ice   
in front of the frat houses,
in the middle of the little bridge   
over the stopped river,
my leased car spun three times

before the chainless tires caught.   
Each time round I saw a face:
the man who imagined he loved me;   
the woman who confided in me,
the child who cried "no" upon meeting me,
as if he saw at once to what use

we put those vanishing invented selves.   
The slurred tracks, ringed dark
on the outbound path, froze and unfroze
for weeks after the party to celebrate spring.   
Down the road, the local museum
considered the Ice Age. The glacier

slid in and out of its lit shape
through a fan of color transparencies,   
each ray labelled with an age, a thaw,
the gauged bed of the moraine. Showed how   
the ice junkheap hauled the broken shapes   
in which we live, cave and gully and flat.

And a further dissolution, part of
a shape we would not recognize for centuries,—
like the coins that tumble down the dark slide
to the weighted spar that triggers the mechanism
that lifts the needle to the jukebox disk: "Blue Moon"—
you saw it standing like an atomic field,

charged with particles: little "you's" and "me's,"   
estranged suddenly from the vanity of their motion—
and the prefigured feel of it, music and moon,   
turning full force into its mindless will
then stopping, my foot on the accelerator.

Carol Muske-Dukes, “Skid” from Applause. Copyright © 1989 by Carol Muske-Dukes. All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, Used by permission of University of Pittsburgh Press.

Source: An Octave Above Thunder: New and Selected Poems (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1997)

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Poet Carol Muske-Dukes b. 1945

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 Carol  Muske-Dukes


Carol Muske-Dukes was born in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1945. She earned a BA from Creighton University and an MA at San Francisco State University. Her collections of poetry include Camouflage (1975), Applause (1989), An Octave Above Thunder: New and Selected Poems (1997), Sparrow (2003), which was a National Book Award finalist, and Twin Cities (2011). In addition to poetry, Muske-Dukes has published two collections of essays, . . .

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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