Leaf Blower

By Alan Shapiro

Featured Art: The Poet’s Garden by Vincent van Gogh

Swept up so suddenly in parabolic
spasms like a starling flock
or curtain swelling, billowing out
while all along the edges
this or that leaf frays
from the pack the force
keeps driving forward
over the courtyard bricks—

while in ear muffs and face
mask he points the havoc
this way and that as if
to see what happens because
he’s in no hurry, he’s peaceful,
calm, Laplace’s Demon
out for a stroll, cool source
of all that whirling, lost in

contemplation of the incalculable
force of every movement from
the greatest body to the smallest
atom, holding it all in mind—
working it out, in ear muffs
and face mask following behind
what whirls before him, fleeing,
which is why he strolls.


Alan Shapiro has two books of poetry forthcoming; Proceed to Check Out, from University of Chicago Press in 2022, and By and By, from the Waywiser Press (England) in 2023.

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