poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

About this poet

Carol Muske-Dukes was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1945. She received her M.S. in 1970 from the State University of California at San Francisco.

Her most recent book of poems is Twin Cities (Penguin, 2011). Her previous collection, Sparrow (Random House, 2003) was a National Book Award finalist. Her other books of poetry include: Camouflage (University of Pittsburgh, 1975); Skylight (1981); Wyndmere (1985); Applause (1989); Red Trousseau (1993); and Octave Above Thunder (1997).

Her books of prose include two collections of essays: Women & Poetry; Married to the Icepick Killer: a Poet in Hollywood; the novels Dear Digby (1989); Saving St. Germ (1993) Life after death: a novel (2001) and her most recent book, Channeling Mark Twain (Random House, 2008).

Among her awards are the 1979 Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award of the Poetry Society of America, a 1981 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship, an Ingram-Merrill grant, a Witter/Bynner Award from the Library of Congress, and several Pushcart Prizes.

A regular writer for the New York Times Book Review, the Los Angeles Times, and the Huffington Post, Muske-Dukes has also taught in the graduate writing programs at Columbia University, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, the University of California at Irvine, and the University of Virginia. She is the founding director of the PhD Program in Creative Writing and Literature at the University of Southern California.

She lives in Los Angeles, California, where she served as the state poet laureate from 2008 to 2011.


Multimedia

From the Image Archive

Like This

Carol Muske-Dukes, 1945
                     -- Morituri te salutamus.
                        Los Angeles Times, 1927

Maybe it's not the city you thought
it was. Maybe its flaws, like cracks
in freeway pylons, got bigger, caught
your eye, like swastikas on concrete stacks.

Maybe lately the dull astrologies of End,
Millennium-edge rant about world death
make sense. Look. Messages the dead send
take time to arrive. When the parched breath

of the Owens River Valley guttered out,
real voices bled through the black & white.
The newspaper ad cried, We who are about
to die salute you. Unarmed, uncontrite.

Gladiators: a band of farmers, entrenched.
And how many on the Empire's side recognized
the bitter history of that Bow? Greed drenches
itself in a single element, unsurprised.

Like strippers, spotlit. Tits and asses
flash red-gold, while jets shriek above.
Rim-shot. History, like a shadow, passes
over a city impervious as a bouncer's shove

to dreams. Images tell you what's imaginable.
Here comes another ton. We bathe in
what's re-routed from the source: a fable
of endless water in a dipper made of tin.

From An Octave Above Thunder: New and Selected Poems, published by Penguin, 1997. Copyright © 1997 by Carol Muske. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

From An Octave Above Thunder: New and Selected Poems, published by Penguin, 1997. Copyright © 1997 by Carol Muske. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Carol Muske-Dukes

Carol Muske-Dukes

Carol Muske-Dukes was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1945. She received

by this poet

poem
                                       ... reverberation
                              Of thunder of spring over distant mountains
                              He who was living is now dead
                              We who were living are now dying
                              With a little patience.
poem

He glides in on his single wing, after the signs go up. After
the truck leaves with the bunkbeds, grill, broken hall mirror.
After Scout is dropped off at the shelter. After the last look,

on the dying lawn. In the backyard, where the empty pool
stands open; he pops an ollie over the

poem

O the body’s much ballyhoo’d right to be born!
Aligning with her right to shine & die, a star!
They all know her name but not her age
A doctor our daughters shared, opined.

Her name, he said, was failure to
(Thrived onscreen, you’ve seen her.)
My