Ode to Forks

This entry is part 10 of 31 in the series Odes to Tools

Metal claws of the beast
we would much rather
be descended from —
no wimpy swinging in trees,
no equivocating opposable tine —

whether pitching hay or turning soil
their purpose is the same:
to bite what they cannot chew
& carry what they cannot keep.

There are forks also in roads,
in creeks & in tongues,
but for them
everything remains open.
How ironic then that the man-made fork
should epitomize inflexibility:
insurrectionary bedfellow of the torch,
stoker of digestive fires,
guard’s goad in an underworld
we hope never to descend to,
minimal lightning that we are,
tree gone wrong.

Series Navigation← Ode to a BucketOde to a Magnetic Screwdriver →
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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).


  1. whether pitching hay or turning soil
    its purpose is the same:
    to bite what it cannot chew
    & carry what it cannot keep.

    There are forks also in roads,
    in creeks & in tongues,
    but for them
    everything remains open.

    Fantastic. Reading these lines aloud is a pleasure.


  2. Thanks, Rachel! I hope my subsequent recasting in the plural doesn’t discombobulate you too much.

    (Note to self: use “discombobulate” in a poem.)


  3. marvelous. Seems to me that something’s caught fire in these odes to tools that had sunk to a smolder for a while.


  4. dale – Really? Cool. (Actually, FWIW, my own favorite in the series so far was the next-to-most-recent one, “Ode to Scissors.” I love to write more like that one.)

    MB – Glad you liked that. It was my first thought, but I abandoned it for a while in favor of “impoverished lightning,” which eventually struck me as a little too much.

    Evan – Thanks. It’s nice to know that you’re getting something out of it – from my perspective, sometimes it seems downright inconsequential. But it’s a great mental exercise, so I’ll keep it up as long as I can.


  5. I did think of those – just couldn’t figure out a way to work them in. Maybe: “…roads, creeks, tongues and software”? :)


  6. Congratulations on this splendid series. Tools, particularly those polished and honed by long usage, deserve such careful and precise treatment.


  7. Thanks, Joe. I’ll try and keep it up for a while; I hope the inspiration doesn’t run dry.


  8. all that hay-pitching reminds me of:

    Ode to the Non-Dairy Creamer

    No more teats to pull
    No more hay to pitch.
    Just poke a hole in it
    And pour the son-of-a-bitch


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