David Albano

Ode to Work

Carry sunflowers with faces as big as both your hands.

Carry honey, the sweet connection of bee to bear.

Carry yellow crayons so you can draw

the sun, wobbling and bright, like a child.

Carry the yellow yolk leveling itself

in a glass bowl positioned for the promise of baking.

Trust warm-day yellow to carry your body

like a bustling of horns, with a disregard

for the center line—luminous 

freedom evaporating damp doubt.

Be carried at dawn by a glinting lake clean of secrets.

And the rush of goldenrod clamoring,

at the garden gate will call

the goldfinch’s undulating flight

and wake you.

Winter 1812

Napoleon’s army

huddles around campfires

fueled by cannon wheels

and gnaws on their horses.

Sky stands pale,

icy Berezina River threads the landscape,

and a line of bodies

marches and dies.

Insatiable ambition

has wasted 400,000.

The 18,000 that did not die in Russia

are left to this winter.

At night when the orange sky goes out,

clouds appear charred like Moscow

and the wolves come.

Sniffing the wind

fur the color of bare trees

in tight packs

yipping and yowling

and talking in yellow elation—

they feast on the unfrozen parts of men

the bellies and the bowels

before the snow makes a shroud.

They return to their warm dens

dutifully spew up Napoleon’s army

amid joyful whimpers and playful growls

of pregnant wives and sisters,

so these mothers can suckle

the wolves of 1813.


 David Albano is a joyful dad because his children love stories and poetry and pizza as much as he does. He has taught literature in a variety of different places—from Malawi to the Navajo Nation—and to a variety of different students. His favorite place to teach is under a tarp in a thunderstorm on a canoe trip.