The Homer Mitchell Place

By John Engels 1931–2007 John Engels
The mountains carry snow, the season fails.   
Jackstraw clapboard shivers on its nails,
the freezing air blows maple leaves and dust,   
a thousand nails bleed laceries of rust,
slates crack and slide away, the gutters sprout.   
I wonder: do a dead man’s bones come out

like these old lintels and wasp-riddled beams?   
I ask in simple consequence of structure seen   
in this old house, grown sturdy in its fall,   
the brace and bone of it come clear of all   
I took for substance, what I could not prove   
from any measure of design or love.

Or is it rather that he falls away
to no articulation but decay,
however brightly leap the brass-hinged bone,   
beam and rafter, joist and cellar-stone?

John Engels, “The Homer Mitchell Place” from Weather-Fear: New and Selected Poems (Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 1983). Copyright © 1983 by John Engels. Used with the permission of the author.

Source: Weather-Fear: New and Selected Poems 1958-1982 (1983)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet John Engels 1931–2007

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Living, Time & Brevity, Home Life, Relationships

Poetic Terms Couplet

 John  Engels


John Engels grew up in South Bend, Indiana. He earned an AB in English from the University of Notre Dame, served in the US Navy for three years, attended University College, Dublin, and received an MFA from the University of Iowa in 1957. Engels published over 10 collections of poetry, among them The Homer Mitchell Place (1968), Weather-Fear: New and Selected Poems 1958–1982 (1983), Walking to Cootehill: New and Selected Poems, . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Time & Brevity, Home Life, Relationships

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Couplet

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.