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Deborah Keenan

Deborah Keenan is the author of eight poetry collections, most recently Willow Room, Green Door: New and Selected Poems (Milkweed Editions, 2007), winner of the Minnesota Book Award. She is the recipient of honors from the Bush Foundation, the Loft Literary Center, and the National Endowment for the Arts, among others. She taught for twenty-nine years at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she lives.

Selected Bibliography

Willow Room, Green Door: New and Selected Poems (Milkweed Editions, 2007)
Kingdoms (Laurel Poetry Collective, 2006)
Good Heart (Milkweed Editions, 2003)
Happiness (Coffee House Press, 1995)
How We Missed Belgium, with Jim Moore (Milkweed Editions, 1984)
The Only Window That Counts (New Rivers Press, 1985)
Household Wounds (New Rivers Press, 1981)
One Angel Then (Midnight Paper Sales Press, 1981)

By This Poet


Maybe He's Grateful but Get Out of His Way

The Siberian tiger leaps from the back of the truck:
He’d been caught in a snare, rescued by Russian students
Deep in the forest, tranquilized, observed, fitted with a radio
Collar, woken up as if from a human dream for tigers,
Driven back to the forest, the cage opened, the leap,
And gone.

Four hundred left. Poachers demented with greed
Want every part of the Siberian tiger but never
The whole tiger.

Animals Above Me

My neighbor cradles a coyote at the top of the hill behind my house.
She is screaming at me to stop being so afraid.
Then the keening yet ecstatic cry of our neighborhood hawk, and then
The plunge, the lift, the rabbit, crying.
Worst, the nightly dreams of the snake, huge, yellow and green,
On the high shelving in my old house, sometimes the bedroom,
Sometimes the dining room. The dream makes me sick
And I wake from it every night between 3:30 and 4:00. Comforting
Books do not comfort, so I get up exhausted and start the day.
Other neighbors keep telling me: as long as you see it, you don’t need
To be afraid. Then in the next dream, I cannot see it.
I am sick and afraid. I wake up again.
The bear straddling my maple tree, about twenty feet up.
Is he scared?
I am so sick of thinking about how safe I am, so sick of making
Animals carry all my fear. The human beings in our country,
Half, at least, live in terror. In our world, half, at least,
Terrified, desperate, sick with fear. I see it. I cannot see it.
I see it.