Daniel Bourne



The Burnt House

So delicate the things
that survive

A long spoon on stone
like a dark snake

The ash still coughing
in the chimney

No time for the children
to learn to read their names

So why do their bodies
still expect our stories

No one even looks
for the little dolls



The Unknown Knowns

The trees do
what the hands cannot, their clasp
hidden by leaves
so that no one disengages
the moment they are caught.

As in drought
child and dog

pass in their own thirstiness
searching for a little dish, even
a small dip in the concrete

and of course
just a little bit of rain.

The butterfly effect
of a moth to flame.

The damselfly eaten
by the dragon.

that show no borders.

The sword that speaks louder
than the pen.




a vase on the table
a face on each side

the black geese changing
into white

who knows which way
the boxes go

is the world this way
or that

a saint listens
as the burning bush talks

destroy the world
or save it

is this the voice of god
or the voice of my own devil

the fatted calf
that eats the skinny



Daniel Bourne’s poems have appeared in GuernicaPloughshares, Field, Plume, American Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, ShenandoahSalmagundi, Quarterly West, and elsewhere.  His books include The Household Gods, Where No One Spoke the Language, and a collection of translations of Polish political poet Tomasz Jastrun, On the Crossroads of Asia and Europe.   He teaches in English and Environmental Studies at The College of Wooster in NE Ohio, where he edits Artful Dodge.  Since 1980 he has lived in Poland off and on, including from July 2013 till January 2014 for some collaborative projects with Polish poets and visual artists involving the environment as well as back in 1985-87 on a Fulbright fellowship for the translation of younger Polish poets.  His translations of Polish poets have appeared widely, including in such journals as Colorado Review, Partisan Review, Salmagundi, Prairie Schooner, Plume, and Virginia Quarterly Review.