Dog Days of Summer

By Meena Alexander b. 1951 Meena Alexander
In the dog days of summer as muslin curls on its own heat
And crickets cry in the black walnut tree

The wind lifts up my life
And sets it some distance from where it was.

Still Marco Polo Airport wore me out,
I slept in a plastic chair, took the water taxi.

Early, too early the voices of children
Mimicking the clatter in the Internet café

In Campo Santo Stefano in a place of black coffee
Bordellos of verse, bony accolades of joy,

Saint Stephen stooped over a cross,
A dog licking his heel, blood drops from a sign

By the church wall—Anarchia è ordine
The refugee from Istria gathers up nails.

She will cobble together a gondola with bits of driftwood
Cast off the shores of the hunger-bitten Adriatic.

In wind off the lagoon,
A child hops in numbered squares, back and forth, back and forth,

Cap on his head, rhymes cool as bone in his mouth.
Whose child is he?

No one will answer me.
Voices from the music academy pour into sunlight

That strikes the malarial wealth of empire,
Dreams of an old man in terrible heat,

Hands bound with coarse cloth, tethered to a scaffold,
Still painting waves on the walls of the Palazzo Ducale.

Meena Alexander, "Dog Days of Summer" from Quickly Changing River. Copyright © 2008 by Meena Alexander.  Reprinted by permission of Northwestern University Press.

Source: Quickly Changing River (Northwestern University Press, 2008)

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Poet Meena Alexander b. 1951

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life, Class, History & Politics, Money & Economics

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Meena  Alexander

Biography

Born in Allahabad, India, poet Meena Alexander was raised in south India and Sudan. She earned a BA at Khartoum University and a PhD at Nottingham University. She is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including Birthplace with Buried Stones (2013), PEN Open Book Award–winner Illiterate Heart (2002), and House of a Thousand Doors (1988). In her poetry, which has been translated into several languages, Alexander . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life, Class, History & Politics, Money & Economics

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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