Our human tendency to ascribe human qualities to non-human beings is sometimes called in poetry the “pathetic fallacy.” While I don’t agree that it’s always so “pathetic” to do so, what interests me in these three poems—by Vickie Cimprich of Ft. Mitchell, Kentucky; by Lynn Robbins of Cold Spring, Kentucky; and by Vince Broerman of Symmes Township—is how humans instead embody the animal.
By bedtime the storm left us no lights
but old candles in shot glasses.
The ridges again shown dark
out the bedroom windows,
acquitted pro tem
of Columbia Sussex’s megawatted stories
hanging in the branches
like a fancy girl’s shimmy.
The children of wolves
never born in Kentucky
on account of D. Boone and his tribes
came panting up our ravine
through the wuthering trees.
So we settled in and
took hold again of our two selves
as if they were pelts.
If I Could Keep My Eyes Open
The doe and I meet eye-to-eye blinkless
in the yard and hold each other there,
across the green, still, except for
four wide eyes glistening,
two hearts pounding, wind
wrapping around our ears.
Then I blink—I admit
I know better, but I blink
and the deer turns, bolts,
her bad back leg hanging useless,
though she bounds off fast enough
on three, soon safe in the shadows.
I turn then, too, to run away,
dragging my own old injuries
and infirmities behind me,
never feeling quite fast enough
or safe enough to stand firm,
unblinking in the face of joy.
“If I Could Keep My Eyes Open” is included in Two Plus Two Is Fear: How anxiety stole a voice and poetry gave it back (2017), a memoir.
Mating, In the Wild
Alone, he searched.
Tucked under rounded shoulders and upturned collar,
he shuffled, like a bear,
over slab after slab of icy gray concrete.
What he saw: Wooden people, of the shops, with wide, unblinking eyes, frozen in time. There were hundreds and hundreds of hurried ones, too, each, rushing, like a river, through the same canyon. Then, there were the scriers, who blocked the paths, like unmoving boulders frothing the waters, gazing at their creations, yet unable to see.
He stopped, to rest
his worn, tired soles.
He sat on an old slatted bench.
What he noticed: Not one single person, whether wooden, plastic or stone ever saw. Their reflection, in the ribbons of bright plated glass, shined; and, overhead, in the distance, there was a sign, on which a message had been written, not which he bothered to read.
Always the same,
the promise. What he sought would be found
around the next corner.
He tightened his red silk scarf,
stepped off the curb, and,
like a salmon,
he swam upstream.
Join us for the Cincinnati Poetry Month Daily Project Reading on Wednesday, April 26, 7 pm at People’s Liberty, 1805 Elm Street, Over the Rhine