May 2008 - THE POTOMAC

Advice to a Field Mouse
   Roger Netzer

Hawks as they soar see movement first.
Their shriek, a rasp without tone,
is sudden and hard to place.
Its report frightens you and your kind—
I know because I am your kind,
and it sets this mammal’s heart aflutter,
announcing my haven is none,
the gestapo are at the door,
come out come out we see you.

But the fact is you are not seen yet.
The predator is bred to bluff,
and the game, not yet up, goes like this:
Your panic provokes you to flee,
your flight renders you visible, and . . .

Not running, I know, is harder
done by you than said by me.
Escape must be instant as your fear,
while, for my part, observation is leisure.

And there’s my other bias:
Ever since I was little
my sight has welcomed raptors.


Four Mini-meals

Sweet are the fruits of imagination.
But cherries taste better.
  •        •
How my stomach cringes
at the cockroach I've become.
And yet what splendid relish
do I take in every crumb.
 •        •
The poet is in heaven
when he imagines hell.
 •        •
At Olduvai they disinter the dead from time to time
Where excavators clamor over startled bits of lime.
The brow accustomed to neglect is fondled once again:
Sweet the nothing whispered by the breezes now, and then.


Judy Arrives

Waking to hear my big sister’s voice
was the way I knew my father was dead.
Downstairs was never far off in that little house,
though far enough that Dad used to stay
up with us younger kids till we fell asleep.
But Judy lived two hours away
and only something awful
would bring her back first thing on a Monday
to this place that was no longer home to her.
When I got to the head of the stairs that morning
I caught her expression which clinched it
and I dashed back toward my bed, the sound
of her voice replaced with mine going
No No No and the thump of her feet racing up.
After that I did not see her or anything else
only felt her on the bed with me
and her wet face in my neck crying
over the boiling darkness
“What are we going to do what 
are we going to do.”

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