snowman poem pioc


…the nothing that is.

The head’s the first to go, defaced
In image, mind…. The sloping sphere
Of snow will melt away and, traced
Like shade, remark when now and here
Will shift like future winds that turn
Against themselves. The fastening
Of household objects will suborn
A child’s emotions, meant to sting
Like death. Unmittened hands will grip
The snow like icicles against
The spine – a patient morphine drip.
The future tense, the coming sensed,
Deployed in perfect case and form:
So death will come – and sun will warm.

Rotund pectoral planetoid of snow,
This middle section sculpted by hands
That lend you their formal warmth, do you know
At present what of time your image lends
To winter’s metaphysics? Only now
Exists for you, the beating heart you have,
Or seem to have, can only live and grow
More frigid. Tell us what it’s like to cleave
These moments undefined, escaping, lost
Yet not, the snow that falls the same that fell
Or waits to fall. So winter goes…. You trust
Each falling flake of snow is there to tell
That what you find is all you see here: scraps
And fragments buttoned down with beer caps.

At bottom, earth and other elements have mixed
To bring this work of art to light of day, the end
Of every poet’s work: to show the past, perplexed,
Untested, strange as snow that falls before the blind:
And so you stood, as fixed as history or news
That lasts a day, but either way, a monument
To words, a selfish cenotaph to time. The clues
You left behind were numerous and adamant
With meaning; numinous and adequate to speak
For tiny hands from whom you took your purposed shape –
To signal life on earth, to breathe, behind the break
Of mind and body, sentience. With no escape
From knowing, man leaves his prints everywhere to know,
Like a snowman who stands in snow despite the snow.


  1. That eye on the left looks like it’s about to pop out….
    I’ll help Anastasia build a life sized snowman when I get home. A California sandman just isn’t the same as a Wisconsin snowman.

  2. Big Jon Bully says

    Great poem.

  3. Quin Finnegan says

    Very great indeed, from the prefatory quotation to the last rhyme.

  4. Quin Finnegan says

    The title is fine as well … I just really like the way you take Stevens’ (fairly abstract) metaphysical line and bring it into your own backyard, so to speak.

  5. Rufus McCain says

    Yes yes very nice now get Groundwork rolling through the presses.

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