Volume 68, Number 2 · Spring 2019

Ira Furor Brevis Est

  —Horace, Epistles

When the anger isn’t madness anymore,
you find it by dredging the mud
at the bottom of yourself, clear cove
gone cloudy. And soon you are driving
that town again, those streets
called Cannon and College, the mire
of waterfront swirling in your view,
those buildings where rage circled
like badly vented air. And here,
in this poem, you wander conference rooms
and find the secret files of your offenses—
that time you swept tradition
into the trash like a broken porcelain cup,
and how they couldn’t forgive you
for holding the broom, because goddamn
that place, its antique custom of hating
whatever it thought did not belong,
and how you didn’t, and now the anger
begins to fill in scenes you once forgot.
His face the red of drinking whiskey
in his office. Her eyes a dull chalkboard
where words had been erased.
And the poem returns you to summer’s wet,
the haze of August touching
the coolness of your current mind.
And you see how easily you left behind
the charming artifacts of that place,
chimneys smoky-black with their own
grievances, landscape of blue
herons quill-sharp among the reeds.

Jehanne Dubrow is the author of nine poetry collections and three books of nonfiction, including most recently Exhibitions: Essays on Art & Atrocity (University of New Mexico Press, 2023). Her next book of poems, Civilians, will be published by Louisiana State University Press in 2025. Her writing appears in Poetry, New England Review, the Southern Review, and Ploughshares. She is a professor of creative writing at the University of North Texas.