Untitled and unpunctuated, the seventy poems in this acclaimed collection seem to cascade from one page to another. Maurice Manning extolls the virtues of nature and its many gifts, and finds deep gratitude for the mysterious hand that created it all.

that bare branch that branch made black

by the rain the silver raindrop

hanging from the black branch

Boss I like that black branch

I like that shiny raindrop Boss

tell me if I’m wrong but it makes

me think you’re looking right

at me now isn’t that a lark for me

to think you look that way

upside down like a tree frog

Boss I’m not surprised at all

I wouldn’t doubt it for

a minute you’re always up

to something I’ll say one thing

you’re all right all right you are

even when you’re hanging Boss

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  • Format: Paperback

  • ISBN-13/EAN: 9780156034753

  • ISBN-10: 0156034751

  • Pages: 128

  • Price: $14.00

  • Publication Date: 11/03/2008

  • Carton Quantity: 84

Maurice Manning

Maurice Manning

MAURICE MANNING is the author of four previous books of poems. His last book, The Common Man, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. A winner of the Yale Younger Poets Prize and a Guggenheim Fellowship, he teaches at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky.
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    "The natural world in these poems is a figure familiar and lush, yet unknowable and everywhere meaningful."—American Poet


  • excerpts


    boss of the grassy green

    boss of the silver puddle

    how happy is my lot

    to tend the green to catch

    the water when it rains

    to do the doing Boss

    the way the sun wakes up

    the leaves they yawn a bit

    each day a little more

    for a tiny reason then

    when the leaves outgrow their green

    the wind unwinds them Boss

    that’s the way you go around

    if you loose me like a leaf

    if you unburden me

    if I untaste the taste

    of being bossed by you

    don’t boss me down to dust

    may I become a flower

    when my blossom Boss is full

    boss a bee to my blue lips

    that one drop of my bloom

    would softly drop into

    your sweetness once again

    if I go round that way

    I’ll know the doing means

    to you what it means to me

    a word before all words


    did you ever have a nickname Boss

    a favorite color ever walk around

    in a circle for the fun of it do you

    snap your fingers hold your breath

    do you put things in your pocket

    do you notch a stick for every sparrow

    is everything a little game to you Boss

    a little peekaboo a ring around

    the rosy Boss we all fall down that’s

    the funny part when it happens

    do you keep a straight face or do

    you laugh what’s it like to always know

    the answer never have to guess when

    you rest do you ever fall asleep


    the night is trotting toward me Boss

    as if you tapped it with a switch

    or clicked your tongue against your teeth

    it’s coming down the pasture soon

    I’ll hear the leather tackle squeak

    I’ll see your ankle swinging in

    the stirrup Boss you ride the night

    but you don’t need to hurry no

    you’ve been this way a time or two

    before you’ve hauled your wagon full

    of stars it’s all old hat for you

    you get here when you get here O

    I guess you like the same old thing

    it’s funny but I like it too

    I like it when you ride the night

    across the sky as if it were

    a nag a worn-out horse you don’t

    mind riding O you get along

    your horse is made of silver Boss

    it clips like sleep it clops like you


    what color is your collar Boss

    is your backbone sore from bending over

    when you clap your hand against your thigh

    does a little cloud of dust fly off

    do you wipe your face with your shirttail Boss

    I’d bet my wages that you do

    though I couldn’t say for sure how much

    my wages are they’re probably

    enough O I get by all right

    a beech seed here a feather there

    a locust wing a wing as light

    as air besides it lets light through

    I get a double portion from you

    I tie my purse strings tight but put

    this in your pocket all I have

    I’d lay it on the table Boss

    for you I’d bet you jerk your lines

    you hang your salty harness from

    a red nail in your barn you pour

    your horse a scoop of oats you give

    its tail a tug you say nighty night

    you spotted nag it’s funny Boss

    I can hear you chuckle when

    you shut the stall you’re happy for

    a good day’s work a spotted horse

    I wonder if that horse’s spots are real

    or painted on it makes me smile

    to think about it Boss even

    field hands need a laugh or two

    a rusty riddle a twisty tongue

    I wouldn’t put it past you O

    you sneaky devil you cutup Boss


    you’re the hay maker Boss

    you light the candle in the sun

    dip the water in the rain

    O for the whole big picture

    you’re the painter Boss I know

    it’s you the biggest boss of all

    you must have a sack full of wind

    somewhere a barrel full of salt

    a recipe for stone things like that

    you keep them close to your chest

    you keep your secrets Boss

    you flash a yellow eye then crow

    away you’re like a rooster Boss

    sometimes you’re like a fox


    do you get happy Boss do you

    get tickled by a funny bird

    or doubled over by a tree

    a lonesome tree less lonely Boss

    because it has a horse beside it

    it doesn’t matter if the horse

    is rubbing anything or not

    as long as it’s beside the tree

    so simple Boss a horse beside

    a tree it makes me happy just

    to think about two things beside

    each other the stick beside the fire

    the rock beside the water O

    the snow beside the sleepy field

    O Boss the moss beside my mouth

    when I bend down to say it’s me

    you mossy bank you happy piece

    of green it’s me beside you like

    a bird I thought I’d let you know

    in case you don’t have eyes I thought

    I’d tell you Boss what always leaves

    me happy if you didn’t know

    already Boss in case you spend

    a lot of time beside yourself


    do you have a table

    Boss do you have

    a lantern do you

    leave a broom straw

    on the mantel when

    you blow into your hearth

    does it glow Boss

    do you touch the broom straw

    to the coal do you

    touch the lantern next

    is that how you make light

    like that with little more

    than just a breath Boss

    what happens next

    once your lamp is lit

    what happens after that


    O Boss sometimes you take it all

    you shuck the corn you slice the pie

    in the sky O you’re the onliest

    the only word that’s ever on

    my lips I let it slip when I see

    the sky lit up like sunshine scattered

    on the river though it’s nighttime Boss

    O all those sparkles all that glimmer

    my eyeballs never want to blink

    away from you when I know for sure

    you’re up there making shimmer Boss

    you’re laying by a little light

    for later on I wonder if

    you have a wheel to shell the stars

    the way you turn the sky I think

    your hand is wrapped around a crank


    are you ever sorry Boss ever

    have a problem ever get

    shamefaced stuff your hands

    in your big boss pockets

    it’s never easy is it Boss never

    Boss ever get a slow start ever

    feel like you’re at the end

    of the line the end of your rope

    have you ever had it up to here

    wherever that is on you I know

    it’s high up to your neck Boss

    the top of your head you must

    be tall to take it all the way

    you do taller than the top

    of the moon Boss O I wonder

    what you see when you look up


    you spread the nighttime Boss

    all over me you tuck

    me in you tuck me tighter

    than a splinter in my finger

    Boss you breathe a song

    into the wind when you get

    this close I wish you’d put

    your ear against my mouth

    so I could tell you something

    I could tell you something

    Boss if you would just

    bend farther down I know

    you know what I would say

    Boss if you’d put your ear

    against my mouth though it

    would only be a whisper

    I’ve got a secret Boss

    it’s burning up my lips


    I told that old dog he

    could hush Boss I said

    there now you’re just having

    a shaky little dream dream

    a dream dream Boss how

    about that talking to a dog

    that way there there it’s justa little dream dream you

    don’t have to whimper that’s

    what I can’t stand Boss

    to see an old dog whimper

    what’s in an old dog’s dream

    dream anyway some rabbits Boss

    or barking up a tree say do

    you ever have a dream dream

    Boss are you running after or

    away from me tell me sometime

    if your big feet ever twitch


    why Boss why do the days drift by

    like a leaf asleep on a bed of water

    does the leaf forgive the tree that let

    it fall into the water does

    it know how stiff the river’s face

    can be how smileless rivers like

    to be at least this one Boss not a flinch

    or bristle bloomed on its glassy face

    the moment

Available Resources

Related Categories

  • Format: Paperback

  • ISBN-13/EAN: 9780156034753

  • ISBN-10: 0156034751

  • Pages: 128

  • Price: $14.00

  • Publication Date: 11/03/2008

  • Carton Quantity: 84

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