Ice Men

By James Longenbach James Longenbach
One cuts blocks
From the abundant river,
Hauls them house to house.
One falls, unseen,
The heart
Inoculated cold
Against a sky still moving.
Moving even now
Above the river,
The canal.
Willows shimmering
Across the water,
Muskrats diving out of reach.
The river whispers
Till it freezes—
A body
Twirling sluggishly
Beneath the surface as again
One stack, then
Spreads the straw.
Another falters,
Slips, or
Puts a sliver on your tongue
To feel it melting there—
The ice-lit
Of someone else.

James Longenbach, "Ice Men" from Draft of a Letter. Copyright © 2007 by James Longenbach.  Reprinted by permission of The University of Chicago Press.

Source: Draft of a Letter (The University of Chicago Press, 2007)

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Poet James Longenbach

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Living, Death, Life Choices, The Body, Activities, Jobs & Working, Nature, Winter

 James  Longenbach


A poet as well as an influential literary critic and a professor of English at the University of Rochester, James Longenbach writes primarily on modernist and contemporary poetry. He is the author of the critical works Stone Cottage: Pound, Yeats, and Modernism (1988), Wallace Stevens: The Plain Sense of Things (1991), Modern Poetry After Modernism (1997), The Resistance to Poetry (2004), The Art of the Poetic Line (2008), and . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Death, Life Choices, The Body, Activities, Jobs & Working, Nature, Winter

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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