Removing the Dross by Thomas R. Moore | Ted Kooser

  • Wed Jan 1st, 2014 7:23pm
  • Life

Thomas R. Moore, a poet from Maine, has written a fine snow-shoveling poem, and this is a good time of year for it. I especially admire the double entendre of “squaring off.”

Removing the Dross


After snowstorms my father

shoveled the driveway where it lay

open to a sweep of wind across


a neighbor’s field, where the snow

drifted half way down to the paved

road, before snow-blowers, before


pick-ups cruised the streets with

THE BOSS lettered on red plows.

He heated the flat shovel


in the woodstove till the blade

steamed, like Vulcan at his furnace

removing the dross, then rubbed


a hissing candle on the steel

so the snow would slide unchecked

as he made each toss. He marked


blocks with the waxed blade, lifted

and tossed, lifted and tossed again,


squaring off against the snow.



American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2010 by Thomas R. Moore , whose most recent book of poems is Chet Sawing, Fort Hemlock Press, 2012. Poem reprinted from The Bolt-Cutters, Fort Hemlock Press, 2010, by permission of Thomas R. Moore and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2013 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.