The Dow Is Off

By Norman Williams Norman Williams
Southbound, downwardly mobile in
A knocking ten-year-old LeSabre,
Totaled once and salvaged, rust
Gnawing at the rocker panels like
Fire at the curtains in a melodrama,
I imagine those for whom such news
Must matter: sauve, smooth-featured types,
Untroubled by the odd details
Of racing forms or powerball,
Who, while I drove truck or counted stock,
Were wisely planning their estates,
Diversifying portfolios, or buying
A summer place with acreage.

Yet how their evening now is shot!
How flat the chardonnay, how bland
The tips of tenderloin must taste!
Of course, it’s not the Dow alone—
The dollar’s through the roof, T-bills
Have plunged, and, even now, the wife
Is pussyfooting at the club.
How birdsong-sweet and full of joy
Seems my life by comparison:
The Gulf’s two hours off, where rigs
Pound at the solar plexus of
The earth, and where, on moonlit nights,
Perfumed mulattoes weave like snails
By the shore, leaving shining trails.

“The Dow is Off” from One Unblinking Eye by Norman Williams. Published in 2003 by Swallow Press/Ohio University Press, Athens Ohio (

Source: One Blinking Eye (Ohio University Press, 2003)

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Poet Norman Williams

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Class, Social Commentaries


An attorney in Burlington, Vermont, Norman Williams earned a BA from the University of Colorado in 1974 and a JD from Yale University in 1979. He is the author of the poetry collections The Unlovely Child: Poems (1985) and One Unblinking Eye (2003). He has received an Ingram Merrill Fellowship, an Amy Lowell Fellowship, and an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The Unlovely Child won the I.B. Lavan Award. Poet . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Class, Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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