In slough time

This entry is part 28 of 42 in the series Antiphony: Paul Zweig


I’m reading Paul Zweig. This is the tenth poem in the third (“Eternity’s Woods”) section of his Selected and Last Poems, followed by my response. See here for details on this experiment in responsive reading. I’ll remove Zweig’s poems after a week or so to prevent egregious copyright infringement.


A stalk of yellow weed isolated in sunlight;
The tinge eastward toward Queens over tarred rooftops.

A wake furls slantwise across the empty river . . .

[Remainder of poem removed 11-06-05]

* * * *

The Catch

We were playing hide-&-seek. At the last moment,
I dove under a black rubberized tarp
that had been lying out back for several months.
I heard her finish the count & come looking,
rounding the corner of the house on rapid feet.

The tarp rustled from my heavy breathing.
A beetle made a racket
burrowing out from under from my right ear,
which was pressed against the ground.
She ran past, the beetle wiggled free
& everything grew still.

After a while, I heard the approach of slow footfalls.
This time, I held my breath as if
my life depended on it. The steps came up
to the edge of the tarp & stopped.
“Nobody under there,” I heard her say.

Is it better to fish without luck,
or to stretch a net & accept the inevitable by-catch?
The silence after that second attempt
has yet to end. From time to time,
a harvestman runs over my carcass on seeing-eye legs.
What mountain is this, I start to wonder,
keeping the smooth sky from a tangled earth?

For bycatch, see here. For an excellent, brief essay on harvestmen, see here.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

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