At Dusk

October 11, 2016

At dusk, as the cathedral frogs sing songs
of unprincipled certainty, the fox
will circle the pond in search of what belongs
to every fox no matter how unorthodox.
It couldn’t matter less. Your theoretical
frog is not just a cliché—softened by
the fox’s growl—it is an inestimable
blunder. Why, if their song could even try
to rival a great graveyard in honest terror,
it would be as if all creation waited for
a mot juste from a bare nosed but blessed warrior:
the word, the frogs, the pond, the neither/nor—
‘Neither’ left the fox too much “to see,
‘nor’ for long—not with all them frogs legs for free

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4 Responses to “At Dusk”

  1. extrasimile Says:

    Okay Thomas, so I must say it again: Yikes, did I really mean all that?
    You are right to, as it were, hold my feet to the fire on this ‘theoretical’ frog thing—presumably able to provide theoretical feet for Mitt and Don to much on while they hatch a theory—frogs do lay an egg now and then, do they not?
    Anyway I think it’s Marianne Moore we must assign the principle blame for the frog, she with the imaginary garden and the real toad. Who ever said any toad worthy of toadying up to would not be real—unless we are back to Mitt and Don again.
    A theoretical frog could either be a frog who theorizes or a frog that is necessary for some theory—It must be the frog in my throat, I thought, that causes me to choke when I talk too much politics. A frog is necessary perhaps when disgusting, umm, I mean, discussing, say climate change. (Incidentally, at Thanksgiving my sister would immediately shout ‘No politics’ whenever a certain name came up—and I don’t mean Santa Claus.)
    I’ve been taking a little vacation from poetry these days—drawing rather elaborate pictures. I hope to get back to ‘the poem’ soon.

  2. Thomas Davis Says:

    Hmm, what do I make of this?
    “At dusk, as the cathedral frogs sing songs
    of unprincipled certainty,”
    Wow, cathedral frogs. Must have been quite a night for the chorus. Unprincipled certainty? Well, can frogs be principled? I guess if they croak loud enough they have unprincipled certainty.

    But then those foxes circling the pond
    “in search of what belongs
    to every fox no matter how unorthodox.”
    Sounds good to me, although, I’ll admit, I’m only partially a fox. Are you talking human here after all?

    Then, I guess I understand:
    “Your theoretical
    frog is not just a cliché—softened by
    the fox’s growl—it is an inestimable
    blunder.”

    The question is, what is a theoretical frog? O Jim, the riddles you pose. A frog singing on the edges of a pond where hungry foxes linger is obviously “an inestimable blunder,” but a theoretical frog? Like the frog in my throat? What is a frog anyway? A threatened amphibian? Is that why they are theoretical? Or are they theoretical only in the poet’s mind? A form of thought that has the characteristics of a frog? Frog thoughts or frog ideas. Now that is a froggy way of thinking about things.

    Then, “Why, if their song could even try
    to rival a great graveyard in honest terror,
    it would be as if all creation waited for
    a mot juste from a bare nosed but blessed warrior:”

    Admittedly a frog song may sound like croaking from the grave, but admittedly, any unorthodox fox would see through that. And creation. CREATION mixed into this! May all my poems be frogs, I guess. Hopefully away from foxes though.

    Of course, I understand Mitt Romney, hoping to be Secretary of State, sat down with the unorthodox fox himself, Donald Trump, and they did have frog legs. O, those poor frogs! I understand Romney is ready to join their chorus.

    Anyway, before all that slipped in, I see the frogs are the bare nosed blessed warriors, croaking for all their might, and not the foxes:

    “the word, the frogs, the pond, the neither/nor—” getting the word in their again, the croak, the songs sung by frogs, Ah. . .

    But, of course,
    “Neither’ left the fox too much “to see,
    ‘nor’ for long—not with all them frogs legs for free . . .”

    Hmmm . . . are we back to Romney and Trump in a fancy New York restaurant again?

    Naw! This is a sonnet.

  3. Thomas Davis Says:

    You are a brilliant poet, Jim. I’m going to try to do this more justice if I can tomorrow. It is just brilliant.

  4. John Looker Says:

    Well Jim, we have both frogs and foxes in our garden. The frogs have never been heard to sing – neither at dusk nor at dawn – and perhaps that’s because of their certainty that the behaviour of the foxes is only too orthodox. Or maybe they are still going round in circles looking for the mot juste. If they find it, I’ll let you know!


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