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Four Acres

The new owners call them
virgin--their four acres

of desert--soon deflowered
by bulldozers, jackhammers

and posts driven in. A rattle
snake wanders in, not aware

he has been evicted
after a few million years.

Though he has no brows
I would swear he reared up

and raised them--a snake
afflicted with perplexity.

What has become here
of home? A call is put in

for the exterminator,
who has already dealt

with the cougar, coyote,
mountain lion, javelina

and quail. The wife dreams
of herself as Eve

in a garden, a snake
crawling near, wrapping

around her. His face
bears a resembance to Satan.

She wakes her husband
to tell him.

. . . . .
"Four Acres" appears in The Anthology of New England Writers 2004 as an Editor's Choice.


David Ray's latest book of poetry is The Death of Sardanapalus and Other Poems of the Iraq Wars (Howling Dog Press). His other recent books are One Thousand Years: Poems About the Holocaust and The Endless Search: A Memoir. His awards include the William Carlos Williams Award (twice), an N.E.A. fellowship for fiction, and The Nuclear Age Foundation Peace Award, as well as several nominations for Pulitzer and Pushcart Prizes.

After growing up in Oklahoma (as told in his memoir), he went on to teach at several universities in the U.S.A., India, New Zealand, and Australia. As a Professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City he was the founding editor of NEW LETTERS and the creator, with his wife Judy and present editor Robert Stewart, of NEW LETTERS ON THE AIR, a National Public Radio program that still airs.

Many of his works, including A HILL IN OKLAHOMA and THE TRAMP'S CUP, have poems about the South and the Midwest. Now living in Tucson with his wife Judy, he travels for readings, and can be reached (and books may be ordered) at www.davidraypoet.com.


About The Death of Sardanapalus and Other Poems of the Iraq Wars, reviewers write:

F.D. Reeve: "There is nothing like this book in American poetry today, for it is the skilled work of a craftsman whose fine ear and deft control distinguish every poem, all of which cry out against the barbarism of war and the stupid cruelties of those who make it. From the clever metaphoric transition of ‘The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier’ to the deeply moving elegy to Wilfred Owen, this collection of intense lyrics shines with intelligence and passion."

Anselm Hollo: "In a time of imperial wars abroad and religious wars at home, David Ray's eloquent meditations speak to all who hope and work for change."

Philip Schultz: "Zbigniew Herbert uses irony to mask his great vulnerability in the face of oppression. David Ray uses a detached classicism to distance himself (and us) from the present horror. But the outrage is there, and the great sadness. I admire these poems and his courage in writing them."

Other new poetry and fiction from the pen of David Ray appears in:
Another Chicago Magazine,
The Ledge,
Midnight Mind Magazine,
New Letters,
Paterson Literary Review,
New Century North American Poets,

and elsewhere.


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