Poem of the Week | September 24, 2008

This week’s poem is “Rain Dog” by Davis McCombs, which originally appeared in TMR 28:1 (2005). The poem is one from a series titled Tobacco Mosaic” and was selected as the winner of our Larry Levis Poetry Prize in 2004. Our new poetry prize is the Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize, and the deadline is October 1st.. Send in your poems!

Davis McCombs began work on “Tobacco Mosaic” about two years after the completion of his first book, Ultima Thule, which won the Yale Younger Poets prize in 1999. McCombs comes from a long and storied line of tobacco farmers. Writing the poems for “Tobacco Music,” was “like coming home,” McCombs says. Not a smoker himself, McCombs says that part of the impetus behind writing “Tobacco Music” was to come to terms with the moral and ethical dilemmas posed by the formative role that tobacco played in his life. Davis McCombs is the director of the Creative Writing Program at The University of Arkansas.

Rain Dog

It is raining in Hart County: a thunderhead has pinned
its flapping sheets along the Interstate; big blood-warm drops
are rattling through gutters, strumming the high-tension wires.
At Pine Ridge Hill, Glen Lilly, at Hundred Acre Pond,
runnels knit, loosen quartzite from conglomerate,
and push the clattering gravel waves down gullies,
through sinkholes, pouring them into vertical shafts
toward the water table. Runoff is scarring the topsoil.
It is undermining the pilings of a wooden footbridge.
Along the shelf of the Escarpment, trickles thicken
into torrents; seeps unlock and scour the outcrops,
depositing tufa. Taps and spigots in the bluffs
beside the river start to drip. Even in the new subdivision,
rain is buckling the freshly laid sod, frothing through
storm drains by the curb, rinsing the lost dog’s world of its map.