Thursday, May 26, 2016

Hunter's Wish

Hunter's Wish

I see you in dreams,
arms akimbo clutched one-handed,
a beige on blond bending
two-dimensional distortion,

or a cave painting:
Hunter, missing one forearm.
Thin as the spear
you no longer throw,
reluctant to grasp

anything at all, 
or pick up the wish
so long on your table,
staring you down,
sealed or smeared,

perhaps just trash or
scratched in a code
mathematically impermeable.
Yet I with no math,
no science, no separated brain

can read,
flat and open as a daisy,
the plain letters curved as
salmon's backs leaping,
your wish for hunt's end:

only be good, it says,
(in antelope tracks, in burnt bones
in crumbled earth,) 
be good

to yourself.
Don't forget how to use
the hand you have left.

~May 2016

posted for     real toads

Image: by SiefkinDR :Photo of outline of a human hand, dated 27,000 Before Present Era, dsplayed at the Musée d'Archéologie Nationale (Museum of National Archeology). in the Chateau of Saint-Germain-en-Laye via wikimedia commons


  1. I have read this now several times, and the poem itself is like those salmon, moving in and out, appearing and disappearing, taking form near the surface only to dart away again. You begin with someone remembered in a dream, hen move on to describing the remembered one's crippled state--as i read it--which is not all physical at all, but partly a reluctance.

    So often, some things are much clearer to those who care for us, than they are to ourselves. The math confuses, but is ultimately not necessary. Don't be stopped, don't be less than you are, the speaker seems to say, despite injury, incompleteness, or trepidation. This is a love poem, and is so unusual and so moving that it makes me fill up with emotion and the satisfaction that reading excellent poetry can bring.

  2. Oh, my! I am going to be running the lines about the wish on the table, staring you down, all day! It was so powerful that parts of it made me uncomfortable in my own forgetting. Wonderful write!

  3. Right on. Use what you got - very strangely bittersweet, which be my favorite flavor. Loved.

  4. I have no words only feelings about this poem. I do love the image, that is quite some history and would love to see the person connected to that hand. Only then, might I find words for this poem. How 'bout awesome?

  5. I can feel the wrestling of two primal feelings, hope and despair, in this piece. Framing it with the allusions to paleolithic progenitors adds to the feeling that this is a long standing struggle fought regularly.

  6. Ah lovely. This really builds to the end which is nonetheless somehow a breathtaking surprise. Really well done. And good advice for any reader--thanks, Hedge. k.

  7. Old poem, that Kilroy Was Here hand (Chauvet, I think), high-fiving from across what Werner Herzog called "an abyss of time." Would our poems from a week ago be able to signal as strongly. It's odd that that hand which painted all that was dead as so present -- all of those animals -- is so present here as absence, what wasn't painted in. All of that art for a hunt's happy end -- well, what do any of us hope for, trying so to properly finish our poems, as if the ah of immanence could benison at least a sated burp from our muses. I think all that ancient dreaming sings on, somehow, in every next creation. Well done, Hedge. May us all make a mark with the hand that is left.

  8. This rings through the ages as a lament of all the hunted, the union between predator and prey that goes beyond cruelty to life's purpose. An outstanding and astounding piece.

  9. Oh this had me from the start to the end, the metaphors of those traces of a life, and alternatives we might have had... the choices, and the giving up. Love how you have used the cave painting..

  10. I probably don't have to tell you that this poem has found its way into all those achy bits inside my bones (and inside the rest of my crippling body). This rings so true, so felt, so lived... It is all right to mourn what has gone, but not forever... If we do, we'll stop caring for what we still have.

    I've enjoyed the structure of this poem quite a bit, Hedge. The pauses create a sense of breakage that adds to the power of the lines.

  11. An utterance of the dangers and tribulations faced by the cavemen of old and predators of present times. The risks to oneself are the same. Loss of limbs may render one useless as a provider. Very thoughtfully dealt with. Great write Joy!


  12. Oh, MY. Just the SOUNDS in this are fantastic. And the images. Well, the whole thing really. But the way those words like each other when read aloud? Spectacular.


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