by Maurice Manning

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN-13/ EAN: 9780156034753
  • ISBN-10: 0156034751
  • Pages: 128
  • Publication Date: 11/03/2008
  • Carton Quantity: 84

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About the Book
About the Author
  • About the Book

    Untitled and unpunctuated, the seventy poems in this acclaimed collection seem to cascade from one page to another. Maurice Manning extolls the virtues of nature and its many gifts, and finds deep gratitude for the mysterious hand that created it all.

    that bare branch that branch made black

    by the rain the silver raindrop

    hanging from the black branch

    Boss I like that black branch

    I like that shiny raindrop Boss

    tell me if I’m wrong but it makes

    me think you’re looking right

    at me now isn’t that a lark for me

    to think you look that way

    upside down like a tree frog

    Boss I’m not surprised at all

    I wouldn’t doubt it for

    a minute you’re always up

    to something I’ll say one thing

    you’re all right all right you are

    even when you’re hanging Boss


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  • About the Author
  • Excerpts
    boss of the grassy green
    boss of the silver puddle
    how happy is my lot
    to tend the green to catch
    the water when it rains
    to do the doing Boss
    the way the sun wakes up
    the leaves they yawn a bit
    each day a little more
    for a tiny reason then
    when the leaves outgrow their green
    the wind unwinds them Boss
    that’s the way you go around
    if you loose me like a leaf
    if you unburden me
    if I untaste the taste
    of being bossed by you
    don’t boss me down to dust
    may I become a flower
    when my blossom Boss is full
    boss a bee to my blue lips
    that one drop of my bloom
    would softly drop into
    your sweetness once again
    if I go round that way
    I’ll know the doing means
    to you what it means to me
    a word before all words

    did you ever have a nickname Boss
    a favorite color ever walk around
    in a circle for the fun of it do you
    snap your fingers hold your breath
    do you put things in your pocket
    do you notch a stick for every sparrow
    is everything a little game to you Boss
    a little peekaboo a ring around
    the rosy Boss we all fall down that’s
    the funny part when it happens
    do you keep a straight face or do
    you laugh what’s it like to always know
    the answer never have to guess when
    you rest do you ever fall asleep

    the night is trotting toward me Boss
    as if you tapped it with a switch
    or clicked your tongue against your teeth
    it’s coming down the pasture soon
    I’ll hear the leather tackle squeak
    I’ll see your ankle swinging in
    the stirrup Boss you ride the night
    but you don’t need to hurry no
    you’ve been this way a time or two
    before you’ve hauled your wagon full
    of stars it’s all old hat for you
    you get here when you get here O
    I guess you like the same old thing
    it’s funny but I like it too
    I like it when you ride the night
    across the sky as if it were
    a nag a worn-out horse you don’t
    mind riding O you get along
    your horse is made of silver Boss
    it clips like sleep it clops like you

    what color is your collar Boss
    is your backbone sore from bending over
    when you clap your hand against your thigh
    does a little cloud of dust fly off
    do you wipe your face with your shirttail Boss
    I’d bet my wages that you do
    though I couldn’t say for sure how much
    my wages are they’re probably
    enough O I get by all right
    a beech seed here a feather there
    a locust wing a wing as light
    as air besides it lets light through
    I get a double portion from you
    I tie my purse strings tight but put
    this in your pocket all I have
    I’d lay it on the table Boss
    for you I’d bet you jerk your lines
    you hang your salty harness from
    a red nail in your barn you pour
    your horse a scoop of oats you give
    its tail a tug you say nighty night
    you spotted nag it’s funny Boss
    I can hear you chuckle when
    you shut the stall you’re happy for
    a good day’s work a spotted horse
    I wonder if that horse’s spots are real
    or painted on it makes me smile
    to think about it Boss even
    field hands need a laugh or two
    a rusty riddle a twisty tongue
    I wouldn’t put it past you O
    you sneaky devil you cutup Boss

    you’re the hay maker Boss
    you light the candle in the sun
    dip the water in the rain
    O for the whole big picture
    you’re the painter Boss I know
    it’s you the biggest boss of all
    you must have a sack full of wind
    somewhere a barrel full of salt
    a recipe for stone things like that
    you keep them close to your chest
    you keep your secrets Boss
    you flash a yellow eye then crow
    away you’re like a rooster Boss
    sometimes you’re like a fox

    do you get happy Boss do you
    get tickled by a funny bird
    or doubled over by a tree
    a lonesome tree less lonely Boss
    because it has a horse beside it
    it doesn’t matter if the horse
    is rubbing anything or not
    as long as it’s beside the tree
    so simple Boss a horse beside
    a tree it makes me happy just
    to think about two things beside
    each other the stick beside the fire
    the rock beside the water O
    the snow beside the sleepy field
    O Boss the moss beside my mouth
    when I bend down to say it’s me
    you mossy bank you happy piece
    of green it’s me beside you like
    a bird I thought I’d let you know
    in case you don’t have eyes I thought
    I’d tell you Boss what always leaves
    me happy if you didn’t know
    already Boss in case you spend
    a lot of time beside yourself

    do you have a table
    Boss do you have
    a lantern do you
    leave a broom straw
    on the mantel when
    you blow into your hearth
    does it glow Boss
    do you touch the broom straw
    to the coal do you
    touch the lantern next
    is that how you make light
    like that with little more
    than just a breath Boss
    what happens next
    once your lamp is lit
    what happens after that

    O Boss sometimes you take it all
    you shuck the corn you slice the pie
    in the sky O you’re the onliest
    the only word that’s ever on
    my lips I let it slip when I see
    the sky lit up like sunshine scattered
    on the river though it’s nighttime Boss
    O all those sparkles all that glimmer
    my eyeballs never want to blink
    away from you when I know for sure
    you’re up there making shimmer Boss
    you’re laying by a little light
    for later on I wonder if
    you have a wheel to shell the stars
    the way you turn the sky I think
    your hand is wrapped around a crank

    are you ever sorry Boss ever
    have a problem ever get
    shamefaced stuff your hands
    in your big boss pockets
    it’s never easy is it Boss never
    Boss ever get a slow start ever
    feel like you’re at the end
    of the line the end of your rope
    have you ever had it up to here
    wherever that is on you I know
    it’s high up to your neck Boss
    the top of your head you must
    be tall to take it all the way
    you do taller than the top
    of the moon Boss O I wonder
    what you see when you look up

    you spread the nighttime Boss
    all over me you tuck
    me in you tuck me tighter
    than a splinter in my finger
    Boss you breathe a song
    into the wind when you get
    this close I wish you’d put
    your ear against my mouth
    so I could tell you something
    I could tell you something
    Boss if you would just
    bend farther down I know
    you know what I would say
    Boss if you’d put your ear
    against my mouth though it
    would only be a whisper
    I’ve got a secret Boss
    it’s burning up my lips

    I told that old dog he
    could hush Boss I said
    there now you’re just having
    a shaky little dream dream
    a dream dream Boss how
    about that talking to a dog
    that way there there it’s justa little dream dream you
    don’t have to whimper that’s
    what I can’t stand Boss
    to see an old dog whimper
    what’s in an old dog’s dream
    dream anyway some rabbits Boss
    or barking up a tree say do
    you ever have a dream dream
    Boss are you running after or
    away from me tell me sometime
    if your big feet ever twitch

    why Boss why do the days drift by
    like a leaf asleep on a bed of water
    does the leaf forgive the tree that let
    it fall into the water does
    it know how stiff the river’s face
    can be how smileless rivers like
    to be at least this one Boss not a flinch
    or bristle bloomed on its glassy face
    the moment
  • Reviews


    "The natural world in these poems is a figure familiar and lush, yet unknowable and everywhere meaningful."—American Poet