American Life in Poetry: Column 503


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.

We do not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2013 by Marty Walsh, whose most recent book of poems is Furniture Out in the Woods, Marty Walsh, 1999. Poem reprinted from Plainsongs, Vol. XXXIV, No. 1, by permission of Marty Walsh and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2019 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.