Quinton Duval


Quinton and Nancy Duval

Quinton Duval has published three books of poems: Guerrilla Letters (1976), Dinner Music (1984), and Joe's Rain (2005), plus his newest collection, Among Summer Pines, from Rattlesnake Press. His poems, reviews and translations have appeared in many literary magazines, including: Carolina Quarterly, Ohio Review, Gettysburg Review, Quarterly West, Cut Bank, Santa Clara Review, and California Quarterly. He is the editor and publisher of Red Wing Press and teaches English and Creative Writing at Solano Community College in Fairfield, California. He lives in West Sacramento with his wife, Nancy. Sample more Duval at:


The poetry community was saddened by the death of Quinton in May, 2010.


Quinton Duval Poems


—Quinton Duval


How can you stay so beautiful?

At once so pale and broken

into blossoming scraps, then

the dark, smooth branches,

I mean black, that give up

an odd petal to the spring wind.


How do you seem to know

where to set yourself down?

You have all kinds of wild ideas.

I know redbud sees your play

of dark and light, and starts,

brushy, stubborn, with impossible seed.


All the right and fine things

derive from you, or something like you.

All the veined white blossoms

hold against the black branch, the alarm,

the thug of winter light, the whip

that arrives with such beauty.




—Quinton Duval


Sometimes the longing begins early,

mornings steering the tractor through

uniform lines of grapes. The mist

settles between the rows, down where

the sulphur grabs hold of the leaves

and workers get that little cough

and surprising yellow in the kerchief.

But you are riding higher, inside the cab

no outer noise can seep into.

Bored, you decide the noise of the motor

is the noise it takes to make the whole

dark engine run, what it costs to play.

And all you see are unchanging rows,

occasional returns, like a ship

on a stage, afloat by simple optical

illusion. What others would see

as lucky, you write off as lonely

vistas, the same old same old thing.

Today you had bologna in your sandwich.

Today is Thursday. You can't remember

if that's what Thursdays always bring.

You long for a highway, a free-for-all

white line of constant change. The hands

that fold the lunch meat, lubricate the bread,

are hands you have watched for years.

Are they yours or hers? Does she wonder

where those lonely vistas will lead you?

Does she know how separate we are?







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