Over the Dead Flatness of the Fens

By William Logan b. 1950 William Logan
Like columns of mist
in some temple to a vanished god,
the late cloud-stacks mass over a June
reduced to the sickly greens of the Norfolk broads;

and, above the steam-soiled mess
where earthworms grovel, where lumpish toads
set up the resistances of grace,
where badgers undermine the tarred road,

I watch the canvas of that underpainted sky
through a jellied glass of vermouth
while the gravestone crops up
and an oily wind steels itself to the south.

There certain winged creatures
from a century misplaced on shelves
take the day down with a moaning chant
known to themselves.

Source: Poetry (September 2010).


This poem originally appeared in the September 2010 issue of Poetry magazine

September 2010


Poet and critic William Logan was born in Boston in 1950 and earned degrees from Yale University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Since 1975, his work—both poetry and criticism—has regularly appeared in major journals and publications such as the New Yorker, the New York Times, the Paris Review, Poetry, and the New Criterion. He is the author of numerous books of poetry, including Sad-Faced Men (1982), Sullen Weedy Lakes (1988), . . .

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