Every Owl Howls

February 13, 2013

Only my sorcerer’s lips
are left to probe
our silent thoughts
together. Two owls,
so far in the distance
you can see them only
as breath in the morning air.
Picture nothing arising on the horizon.
Picture hand-written poems falling
like leaves from an old trunk.
Sentence fragments,
a grammar so peculiar
it describes a land almost invisible—
bequeathed to you,
my child and heir,
to travel where
every owl howls,
and every coyote kills.

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4 Responses to “Every Owl Howls”

  1. Anna Mark Says:

    Yes, I did see the similarity between this poem and ‘Last Poem,’ and it did occur to me to reply with the you in quotes: “you”, so as to acknowledge the elusive you. Next time ; ) I didn’t remark on this earlier, but owls are so symbolically rich and laden with, for me anyway, death. The self as poem (as owl)…as death, consciousness passing away, and the wisdom in the air…I find the imagery and symbolism very satisfying.

  2. extrasimile Says:

    Perhaps it would be better to ask what is being bequeathed to me, rather than what is being bequeathed by me. Like ‘Last Poem’ the narrative voice is some other person speaking through me. The addressee of Last Poem is an unnamed lover (and ‘my’ father). The addressee of this poem is ‘you’, who is not really me, but could be. The two poems thus walk hand in hand. And they both originate in death of my Aunt Gracie who could have been my mother and could have been a poet herself had she not sacrificed herself by taking care of a family that wasn’t really hers (and who, let’s be clear, never existed. I made her up.) I decided to blow off Aunt Gracie and just leave her voice, her sorcerer’s lips. Anna, to answer your question: what’s being bequeathed is the poem itself…communing like distant owls disappearing in a disappearing landscape, fading off, fading away, a consciousness passing away: The self as poem, the poem as complex self. Where (wise) owls howl and (trickster) coyotes kill. Capisce?

  3. Anna Mark Says:

    I’m interested in the bequeath. What are you leaving, passing on? and for what? sentence fragments and descriptions of an almost invisible land…your owls disappear into the horizon to travel where every owl howls and every coyote kills. Not much to hold onto for survival here. A pleasurable poem to read. I, too, enjoy the mixture of hope within the bleak scene.

  4. John Stevens Says:

    We’ve been away for 10 days with limited internet access so, although I’d read this poem briefly, Jim, I hadn’t had time to reflect on it.
    I can, as you invite, picture the two owls, the still landscape, that old trunk and the poems falling from it like leaves.
    There’s a delightful ambiguity just there: the leaves could be either leaves from the trunk of a tree or sheets of paper spilt from an old suitcase/valise; both are valid.
    And the lines lead the reader to that imaginary ;landscape – where every owl howls (very owl, not merely these two) and every coyote kills.
    That’s quite a bleak scene with which to finish, of course, and points back to the title and the opening lines. But the poem itself has so much substance to it that the reader is left with some hope, along with the breath in the morning air.


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