This entry is part 23 of 37 in the series Bridge to Nowhere: poems at mid-life


Direct link to video.

The flies were half-frozen, they could
barely rub their forelegs together.
How was it the mind still managed
its manikin dance? The galvanized
steel bucket had yet to heal
where a hunter had shot it
beside the old settling pond, now green
with duckweed. What was it like
to flicker wingless, like a flame,
among the ranked objects of desire
from the latest raid? And as
the utmost treasure sang its drone note
into the palm, to feel the fever leave.
I have only muscle memory
of this now: a hooded falcon
ruffling its index feathers
& the bare oaks like a ribcage
through which I passed.

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8 Replies to “Antidote”

  1. this is an accomplishment: the way the video has made me intrigued by the motion of that squirrel’s tale. they (squirrels) normally make me nervous. of course, it’s probably related to how the poem makes me enamored with all the movement: rub, dance, flicker, ruffle …

    it’s really interesting how the words and the image work together!

    1. Thanks, I’m glad you thought so. It made me a little nervous simply because I’m afaid the image quality isn’t quite there. But I do like the concept, and will keep trying to get a sharper video of that gray squirrel electric tail-swish thing (they do it whenever they scold) so perhaps I can redo it at some point.

  2. I get a little lost: I don’t know where to locate the falcon and the the steel bucket — they’re too vivid to just be bits of the narrator’s imagination of squirrel consciousness, which is what I cautiously take to be the baseline here. Or maybe they’re not. I don’t know.

    …And as
    the utmost treasure sang its drone note
    into the palm, to feel the fever leave.

    those are my favorite lines: I think of the Buddhist characterization of the animal “realm” as one of nearly constant, obsessive wanting.

    I have a feeling that this is one of your very best poems, and that I’m being needlessly obtuse :-)

    1. No, it’s an entirely reasonable reaction considering that 99% of my poems allow or invite the reader to conjure up a clear, consistent mental image. I don’t know what the fuck I was doing here — working with a vague feeling sparked by several beautiful Novemeber days in a row, and guided almost entirely by the sound of the language. That’s all I can tell you. Other than that, you’re on your own. :)

  3. That’s what I thought: one of your very best poems, and the interplay of words and image spellbinding. I think this reaches new heights, which is pretty difficult considering where you were already. Can’t really say why, and I certainly didn’t ‘get’ a lot on any plane that I could articulate. But the impact and the pleasure are tremendous.

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