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  Copyright by Stephen Wilbers


American Life in Poetry

A feature provided by Ted Kooser, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2004-2006

As a writer and reader, there’s hardly anything I enjoy more than coming upon fresh new ways of describing things, and here’s a sparkling way of looking at an avalanche, by Marty Walsh, who lives in Maine.

The snow's/feet slip

out from

under it

and down

the mountain

slope it comes

flat on its back

white skirt

and billowy



back over

its head,



pine sapling

as it passes,

bowling boulders

left and right

until it comes

to a juddering

sudden heart-

thumping stop

just shy

of the little village

in the valley far below.


American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Introduction copyright © 2009 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.


"If I read a book [and] it makes my whole body so cold no fire ever can warm me, I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry."
    -- Emily Dickinson

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