Chad Sweeney

The Glass Anvil


is rising

through green air

migrations of rare

and delicate


locust        horseshoe

radio wave






clouds resound in

vermillion the source

of the river is

found the glass anvil


the sahara

cattle bones


like a motive






every window of this

building is one

distance in the anvil

a shape goes up

from the prairie fire






where nets are drying

a minor official

in the history

of water where

is the anvil






of course there is listen

to hollows

when no one

not even you is

in the house







every stone that fell

set loose one


on the surfaces of glass

how to locate that capital

in the tops of maples






no past no


transparent and


or a box

turned inside out

has no secrets left

don’t pretend

you don’t see it

this evening

in the pale

light of the motel sign






you might mistake it

for a tomb door

or the approach

of a palanquin

with no one inside

each in turn


into shape

lens and mirror


the glass anvil

the autumn night






causes ripple the anvil


streaming with lights

for an instant

the heart of a bus driver

is visible

what could it be








a shape goes up

from the prairie fire

the wind of helicopters

everything inside

is outside






that made the glass anvil

is there

hammer fine

enough to strike it







or the top rung

of a ladder


over the canyon the day

my father died the glass

anvil was no use to me







at the junkyard

red dunes


in the glass

it’s trying to remember







where clouds were yesterday


where clouds were


the convergence

of a river

grammar a hive

of angels

marks one corner

of the glass







my childhood stood in a field

and shouted

the glass anvil

regarded me

from inside the air



Chad Sweeney is the author of five books of poetry, including White Martini of the Apocalypse (Marick Press), Parable of Hide and Seek (Alice James), Arranging the Blaze (Anhinga), and Wolf’s Milk: The Lost Notebooks of Juan Sweeney (Forklift Books). He is co-translator of The Art of Stepping Through Time: Selected Poems of contemporary Iranian poet, H.E. Sayeh (White Pine) and translator of Pablo Neruda’s final collection The Call to Destroy Nixon and to Advance the Chilean Revolution (Marick, forthcoming). Sweeney’s poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, The Pushcart Prize Anthology, American Poetry Review, New American Writing and The Writer’s Almanac. While facilitating workshops with at-risk youth in San Francisco he edited the anthology Days I Moved Through Ordinary Sounds: the Teaching Artists of WritersCorps in Poetry and Prose (City Lights). Chad teaches in the MFA program at California State University San Bernardino where he edits Ghost Town ( He lives in Redlands with his wife, poet Jennifer K. Sweeney, and their sons, Liam and Forest.