Monday, June 27, 2011

The Starving Bear

The Starving Bear

The starving bear
turns over trash cans, tips the dumpsters,
learns how to eat away their lids
like scooping out a honey tree.

For one who’s used to
excavating logs and eating the results
a limp french fry is only
a slower kind of worm.

Dancing with debris,
dodging the tranquilizer dart,
he makes chaos out of order,
scavenge out of substance.

No berries, no salmon; he tears the soft
white sacks, scatters maggots like rosebuds
in the famine processional  of maniac summer
at the feet of his  bridesmaid crows.

Sometimes he screws the pooch.
but she knows better than to growl;
it’s an easy mistake to make
after all, and better screwed than food.

She will get
her dinner tonight.
But the  starving bear
must feed himself.

June 2011

Posted for     Form Monday    at the inimitable OneStopPoetry

Image: courtesy google image search  
originating site



  1. Leave it to you to find a way to get "screw the pooch" into a poem. Of course, the expression hasn't much to do with dogs, it's about making a big mistake. So, I don't think you're talking dogs or bears here, not really.

    Here's another expression: "She who laughs last laughs best." Or at least, has a comfy bed and a full dish to feel good about.

  2. What a poem. I feel all screwed up inside. It feels like we are all just dancing with debris these days, and your poem escorts me into that, and that into me, quite effectively. No berries, no salmon . . . is the manic cry of our artificialed world, and that stanza in its glorious language and very disturbing connections is perfection representing it! I'm sickened by the bear screwing the pooch, just as I'm sickened by how we're all pretty screwed, but we're happy to have anything we have — a job, food to eat, a home, even while we watch the world get tipped over and scooped out like a dumpster. Powerfully good write.

  3. ha, love the metaphor at the end...she will get her due i am sure...i feel a bit sorry for the one should go hungry...bridesmaid crows...nice touch...

  4. Poor starving bear, liked the metaphor..powerful write hedgewitch..

  5. Oh this poem really hits home. I so feel for the hungry bears of this world.......for ten years we had one living in the woods at the end of our road - he'd fish the creek in season, pick berries, once at two a.m. I saw him sitting on my sister's porch eating apples she had put there to take out to the barn. One winter midnight I was walking across the road - it was sleeting and miserably cold and wet and I heard the bear crying piteously. Poor old bear. We havent seen him this year. Perhaps he is no more.

  6. Bears are smart scavengers. They learn the shortest distance between paw and food. Once they figured out how to break into a car and then claw to the food stowed in the trunk by ripping through the back seat, they had it made. Besides, we pushed our habitat into their back yard ... Nice contrast between domesticated and wild animal -- the former is fed, the latter scavenges - though the screwing I didn't quite get. Scavenging with benefits? For the pooch, it's just another domestication. Poets I guess fit somewhere between domestic and scavenger. We do what we gotta do. Fine work, friend. - Brendan

  7. Humanity finds a way to skew the balance...

  8. As the day of "Independence" looms on the horizon, the questions of what it means weave into free verse and the puzzle of who's really screwing us starts getting pieced together. This ain't no flag you're sewing here, Betsy. This is the modern world with factions and no compromise. The age of Man may have crested. Always well said.

    Thank you so much for all you do, say and for linking here on Form Monday.

  9. ok - first i read bridesmaid cows...and was just wondering if your source of unusual imagery will ever cease...ha ha...another great write - almost like a fabel...where the writer let's the animals speak to tell a story that would otherwise would cost them their head

  10. Interesting nuances of nature turned, corrupted

  11. Wonderful exploration of bearness...though I can't imagine any of them would really want to screw a pooch. Who knows? Deranged we are, the whole lot of us...humans and bears alike.

  12. "a limp french fry is only
    a slower kind of worm."

    This makes me happy. :D

  13. He's smarter than the average bear . . .

    Love the "scattering maggots like rosebuds."

  14. Many thanks to all who came by and left their thoughts and impressions.

    @FB: Spot on, as always

    @Ruth: You've really gotten every nuance out of this one. Sorry if it was a bit strong, but what comes is what gets written, yes? Thanks so much for reading and understanding.

    @Matt: Somehow that figures. :P

    @Claudia: "bridesmaid cows' will have to wait for another poem, but I'm likin it.

    @Gay & Brendan: Glad you enjoyed.

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  16. OK, let me try this again:
    Excellent use of metaphor in this piece, Joy. It makes me sad to think of how man has destroyed, so much. Well done as always.


  17. Thanks Pamela. I hate that you can't edit comments. Thanks for persevering.

  18. Somethings just seem out of balance and the ratio of humans to wild space is tipping...even the bears are homeless...I am afraid there is a tipping point coming soon....bkm

  19. If we don't learn to dial it back and fairly soon that tipping point is already past. Now if I was being screwed by a bear I think I would just fire off a nuke for a quicker end. But now the bear is dead it's the Dragon now that has our ass.

  20. You have told the tale with a deep compassion, that belies the cynical tone.
    I loved these lines:

    a limp french fry is only
    a slower kind of worm... Somehow only your brand of original thinking could come up with that image.

  21. At face value this write is full of depth. Who is better off? We who toe the line to guarantee our daily bread? Or we who are free to draw our own lines even if the cost is "merely" the constant lack of proper sustenance? Sometimes I read someone's words and I instinctively know that it runs deeper than merely what is at face value, even if I cannot fully discern the depth. This is one of those.


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats