The Children

By Donald Revell b. 1954 Donald Revell
In three directions
are two storms.
I instruct the edges
of my hands to become
irises, to shatter
in that way,
in three directions.
There's nothing behind me.

claw beneath our fences
at the elevation
of sound to pure
unsanctity, the moment
of simultaneity:
airplanes seeming to collide and not colliding, the crow alighting
in the manner of a seabird, the carbomb a more than momentary poppy.

The bad total
of death points one
It moves
at the edge of my hand
at the memorial service,
viols useless now
laid across their breasts,
the attitude of submission.   

I was eating dinner in a tall room. I was the third guest.
I felt a tightening in my asshole, and the yellow wine turned
to red, turned to your hand on another's woven onto tapestry.
How the month of June became our sons, so many bridges for one
river, was the story always delighted you.

The carbomb was faster.
Simultaneous with the iris the viol
shatters in three directions.
Everything I have taken
claws helplessly at sunlight
that won't defend itself.
The red one is the poppy.

“The Children” by Donald Revell from Beautiful Shirt (Wesleyan University Press, 1994). © 1994 by Donald Revell and reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press,

Source: Beautiful Shirt (Wesleyan University Press, 1994)

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

Poet Donald Revell b. 1954

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Subjects Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Donald  Revell


Born in the Bronx, Donald Revell received his PhD at SUNY Buffalo and is the author of more than a dozen books of poetry, translations, and essays. His recent books include Tantivy (2012) and the prose work, Essay: A Critical Memoir (2015).Steeped in the work of Henry David Thoreau and William Carlos Williams, Revell’s poetry is “seriously Christian but not doctrinaire, mystical without setting intellect aside, angry over . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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.