Enter Dark Stranger

$20 cloth / $16.95 paper

University of Arkansas Press, 1989

978-0-938626-95-4 (cloth)
978-0-938626-96-1 (paper)
With this book, William Trowbridge shows himself to be one of our most accomplished comic poets — able to wield a sardonic, mythic humor that is the poetic equivalent to the great paintings of Grant Wood and Thomas Hart Benton.

Enter Dark Stranger is a show, a carnival, a great state fair of a book that, while entertaining and delighting us, enlightens as well. William Trowbridge reminds us of the terribly serious uses to which comedy can be put, and of the near-limitless possibilities of the dramatic creation of character. This is a thoroughly captivating collection of poems — surely one of the very best to be published this year. David Citino

. . . stunning first poetry collection. . . . These poems are howlingly nasty and perfectly executed. . . . Trowbridge’s weapons are a deep puzzlement of feeling and a wonderful ear; he knows how to divert with jokes while he’s about to attack: ‘BLAM BLAM BLAM!’ Jonathan Holden

San Francisco Chronicle

Stark Weather

. . . and it seem as though i could
see ny heart before ny ryes, turning
dark black with Hate if Rages, or
harhequinade, stripped from that munner
life leaving only naked being-Hate.
— Charles Starkweather

On the Great Plains in March,
the wind blows for days.
Gutter pipes vibrate, shingles flap;
things begin to come loose.
Once they found old Miss Purdy
wandering at midnight on U.S. 40,
her dainty-laced nightgown billowing
over her spindly, blue-gray thighs.
It rook three deputies to hold her down
till the doctor arrived.

On the Great Plains in March
the dry elm scrapes
at an upstairs window,
dust devils swirl and disperse
across the wide, empty fields,
and a pistol shot sounds
no louder than a screen door
slapping on a porch.

from Enter Dark Stranger

Father and Son Project 220: Model Airplane Building

Plastic ailerons, struts, antennae
sprawl about, fragile as hummingbird bones.
Boldface warns: To avoid damage, tweezers
are required in handling the smaller parts.
We break four pieces in Assemblage A,
squirt an ounce of glue on Instrument Panel,
join Tab C inseparably to Tab N, spill
Tang across a sheet of filigreed decals.
“Grrr,” I say, belching up a taste of meatloaf.
“Grrrr,” he replies, his new incisor bared.

Aroused, I grab a wing, bite through it,
munch thoughtfully. He snaps the tail
in two, then seizes the small gray pilot
and chews off an arm. “Yum,” he grunts.
Coarse fur sprouts from his ears his forehead
as my great black snout probes the wreckage.
Or dog snuffles in, stares, whimpers out
just before the rampage. We chew, bite,
tear, crush the rest to bloody scrap.

He nips at my ear, asking for more;
I snort, cuff him gently across the rug.
Refreshed on frenzy, Papa and Baby sniff
the air, lumber off toward the kitchen.

from Enter Dark Stanger