Southern Legitimacy Statement: Coming from Florida, I am no stranger to wild pets. Kat Kitchins in Neptune Beach was notorious for nursing newborn wolves, and I’ve seen a baby gator in a bathtub in Tallahassee. Over the past few months, I’ve attempted to sketch a next-door neighbor in Carolina, both in essay and poem. Before his extended-family disappeared as quickly as they arrived, the father kept a large red-tail hawk in a standalone cage bordering the overgrowth close to my front door, where my writing desk is located. On hot spring and summer days, Odell’s hawk constantly hit itself against the cage roof in an attempt to stretch its wings. Going outside to hear church bells, a massive influx of the harmonic cicada, and an exodus of students leaving a semester early felt like I had wandered into a new-age version of W.B. Yeats’ poem “The Second Coming”.
On the Battlefield Collage of our Inhumanity,
splintered spears blaze-out in countless little
ash heaps. Consider this final testament a black rhino
hoofprint in the valley of wandered-off legends,
a bedside fable and creation myths, extinguished
by a scattershot barrage fired by Deciders
pushing war-buttons for one second.
You may search the beachheads for scattered sea
glass fragments and find ancient crustaceans.
You may blaze mountain-face trails
in overpass rain-haze, you may find
a few aged-liquor barrels beneath trapdoors
in abandoned distilleries, but nothing you treasure
will windback the inevitable-irreversible
artillery of time, so buckle your collision-helmet
and steady yourself for the ashen-afterword.
Thirsty antelope scope the Nile headwaters
from two-miles out as we blue-wake with dawn
song; sweet beginnings of each young world,
the familiar and primordial vibrations
shaking the tuning fork in your boom-skull.
Prong-headed wanderer searching for
water, wayward mammals—follow trusty
-hindquarters on your local exodus
into badlands, shiver-lost desert nights;
trailblaze through a Millennia of Heck.
Think: how many years did we spend searching
for shelter and water; years before the Hovering
Gatekeepers descended, pointed our mangy
bodies northward—we slumped forward.
To unthinkable floes and frozen fjords,
to hacking pines with crude blades. Lord,
we must have started a thousand campfires,
forged the irreversible glass panoply of faith.
Forests were the first churches and rivers harbored
our hymnals, shed thirst from our throat-choir.
We are all that is left among these sacred-horned
beasts, these fearful field-wanderers who graze
the effortless grass—chew the buried-fallen
gracefully. Thanks to the fuel that has full-circled
into my body—each green spear sharpening skyward
to challenge the disappearing frost; our breath.
Once upon this world, there were many voices.