“The Fox”….a poem

This event happened a few weeks ago. I wrote and posted this poem, then yanked it. I think I did because it needed some work, as most poems do, but here it is again, in a little better shape.

Right now I am listening to Sandhill Cranes circling above, their cries like racous rain falling to earth. Smaller flocks are flying to join this huge central flock and their cries are getting louder as they grow. This main flock of birds are circling like their GPS is broken, but I think they are waiting for everyone to join. It is a marvel to watch, this celestial miracle of nature.

Lady Nyo

The Fox

Yanked from sleep
By a scream
Wrapping around the belly,
Fueled by some instinct of
Long buried ancestors.

Bolting upright
Knowing without knowing
A terrible slaughter was tearing
The soft night apart.
I had heard that sound before.

Coming fully awake,
heart pounding through my chest
I listened again, and there!
The vocals of a hen attacked
By something stealing through
The soft night, waiting beyond
The edge of sleep.

Three dogs have I
City dogs, though with
The blood of once-fierce hounds.
Not one of them would
Run out to do battle.
Grabbing the collar of the
Biggest, he turned and bit me-
He was no fool.
There was danger
In that dark night-
He was doing his best
To avoid it.

Stupid hounds!
I’ll face the monsters
Out there myself!
And switching on the porch light
I saw the dark flight of something
Fly across my yard and vision,
Take a sharp left and disappear
Into the night where porch light met
A dismal darkness.

Running to the chicken coop,
Found a young hen, a pile of feathers
Mounded around her, still alive
Clucking mournfully.
How do you comfort a tail- less hen
At dawn, with a crescent moon
Throwing feeble light upon the ground of slaughter?

I’ve raised hens for enough years
To know they are merciless to the injured.
But the events of the night
Had stunned their own instincts
And she burrowed amongst them,
They crowding around, covering with feathers and warmth,
Rocked out of their slumber
Clucking out warnings to further attackers:
Let the night and its beasts hear their rage!

In the morning I asked my neighbor
Once a south-Georgia farm boy what to do.
His answer was bloodier than
The attack of this young fox,
For young he must be,
Not to kill his prey on first strike.

“Spread poison in the kudzu,
Here, I’ll lend you a shotgun-
Fox be vermin and bred for no good.”

There is something mystical
In a fox who dares to live in a city.
Or desperate.
Birthed in the kudzu growing
From the leveling of a small forest
Sheltered in one-foot wide drainpipes,
Feeding on rats and rabbits
With a taste for chicken from time to time.

No.
I’ll lock up my chickens
Let a dog prowl the fence,
And leave off the
Modern methods of slaughter.

There must be a balance in nature
As it struggles to right itself
To bypass concrete and the destruction
Of habitat by mankind.
There will be a balance
And I will stand with the foxes.

Oh, it is a marvel and a mystery!
For every species is the center of its universe,
If only for him.

We are connected by a fine thread to all else,
Our survival depends upon this,
Yet our eyes are blinded to the truth
And something in the proclamation
Of “Inheriting the Earth”
Lies and trips us up,
And we are no more shepherds
Of these species than wolves
In human skin.

The world is what it is,
With its own rules of hunger, survival,
We just a cog in this great Mandala,
And most of us attempt to bypass
These laws of nature, still clothed with
Dead dreams of conquerors.

And some of us know this deep in our bones.

We are blind to the beauty of life
That we are not alone.
The tragedy would be if we were,
And we deny our connection to what we now proclaim “vermin”,
Believing for some bad reason this makes us more human.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2012

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24 Responses to ““The Fox”….a poem”

  1. brian miller Says:

    wow. wow..love….some really great lines in this…that whole last stanza in particular….it is a poem itself on our connection to all life around us…vermin included….but also love the feeling of connection int he beginning with knowing something bad has happened…been there and done it…

    we are no more shepherds
    Of these species than wolves
    In human skin. …pow great line….

  2. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Brian!
    This came really fast for a poem of this length. but of course, it was written in the first flush of fear and then later contemplation.

    the first part is a pretty much straight forward relay of what happened….sticking to the facts….and the second part was the ‘philosophical’ part of the poem….what I would stand for.

    I didn’t realize it in the writing of it at first….you know how these things happen, but it helped clarify things more deeply.

    I believe, though I didn’t know it, or how strongly I believed, that we are not alone in all of this ‘air and earth’. We have a responsibility to all other species around us, perhaps the most important task that we will ever shoulder…or at least to my thinking.

    “And some of us know it deep in our bones”. LOL! that is the crux of the matter for me. We know it, and we avoid it like the plague.

    And that to me is the purpose of poetry in a way: to clarify ourselves….TO ourselves…to take a stand of where we are and what we will do. For me, it’s an ecological statement and it helps remind me of my place in the web…..not on top, but joined by intent and compassion somewhere in the middle….

    As a species, we are so mindless…and that is the greatest of shame for me. We have plundered and destroyed so much habitat and when these ‘beasts’ move in with us, we don’t know what we have done.

    Thank you, Brian, for reading this and your wonderful comment.

    Jane

  3. signed .............bkm Says:

    We are all foxes and hens…these read like a mythical tale…lessons embedded and marked well done…bkm

  4. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Barbara! Saw your name on the site…and haven’t seen you for a while. I remember your poetry and I liked it very much!

    I wish this was more fantasy than reality, as I have a hen who looks like a plucked chicken. She needs a sweater with winter approaching.

    And yes, we are all foxes and hens….Thank you so much for reading and your comment. Will be over shortly. Have missed you.

    Jane

  5. ayala Says:

    Great lines, Jane. Beautiful!

  6. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Ayala!

    Jane

  7. Gay Reiser Cannon Says:

    Sorry I haven’t been by in a while Jane. Your writing always touches me. This has the truth of life and death and the sentiment that raises its meaning from the commonplace to the ethereal. Your work always has that effect – it becomes a greater statement about the aspirations one should strive for.

    Things have been moving steadily here. House for sale at beach. Trying to get home.

  8. marousia Says:

    Brilliant narrative poem :)

  9. Mary Says:

    You are so right….every species is the center of its universe. And every species wants to find a way to survive. Glad you did not resort to poison….or shotgun! Better to find a way to protect the chickens than to kill! I liked this poem very much, am glad you shared.

  10. hedgewitch Says:

    Very vivid, Jane. We so want to defend the helpless thing, but of course, the helpless thing is also our own survival, our own food source as well–not that you literally have to survive off your chickens, but that’s why they are ‘domesticated.’ So we really are no different than the fox. My neighbors often ask me why I don;t shoot the squirrels that empty my bird feeders…??? I just don;t get it. Why would I put out food and then be upset because something ate it? Poor hen. Life isn’t easy at the bottom of the food chain.

  11. ManicDdaily Says:

    The end is especially strong, but the whole thing tells a story so well. Really almost like a prose poem as much as a poem. The dog biting your hand in fear – you brazening out! And the idea that vermin are one level of animal and we (if animal at all) so separate–or rather the destructiveness of that idea is so well explained – hope all is well. k.

  12. Steve Elsaesser Says:

    Once upon a time, the roosters and their wives were raising hell at 3 AM. A thief had broken into the chicken house. My father grabbed the shotgun, almost ran down “Chicken Alley”, entered the henhouse and held the intruder at bay until a sheriff arrived–about a half hour after. Chicken thief arrested, and all ended well.

    HOWEVER, ya see…what the thief did not know, was that my father was totally blind! True story.

    Yup, Jane we are stewards of a sort…dropping bombs, destroying whole cities, countries, populations, not to mention the two-and-four-legged Peeps we call animals, birds, fish. And to remember:

    “…each Microbe and Bacillus
    have a different way to kill us…

    Yes, it is in a state of fragility where we live.

    Excellent writer you are…been a while since…..
    LOVE and PEACE!

  13. Snakypoet (Rosemary Nissen-Wade) Says:

    Such a thoughtful piece. You convey menace at first, and the plight of the hens, then turn it all around to stand with the fox. Well done!

  14. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Rosemary…it was quite a ride, this fox incident.

    Jane

  15. ladynyo Says:

    What a great story, Steve…about your father!~!!

    Thank you for reading and your wonderful comment/story!

    Peace and Love,
    Jane

  16. ladynyo Says:

    Hi K….chickens are quiet today, dogs are asleep…life goes on. LOL!

    Thank you for reading and your comment. I learned a lot about myself from this incident. Perhaps we all need a fox in the henhouse to understand these thinngs???

    I am convinced that we have more at stake in our own lives than our pompous separateness. Yesterday, the Sandhill cranes were mobbing the sky, and it was a miracle and a marvel to see. Reminded me of the stories of carrrier pigeons who blackened the sun with their passage…now all gone.

    There is a poem in everything outside our windows, doors….

    And hope all is well with you, sweetie!

    Jane

  17. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Hedge…and you are right! I don’t eat my chickens….I eat their eggs…when they are laying which isn’t now…LOL!

    I’m with you and the squirrels. We have plenty of food to survive on, and all this random killing is just fool’s behavior. No, life isn’t easy at the bottom of the food chain, but she survived.

    In fact, this morning I let them out of the pen and let them eat the new rye grass that was coming in very nicely. My hen’s eggs are always orange inside and I think it is because they gobble up our grass and I buy kale/collards/mustard greens for them. Yesterday they got baby arugula….LOL! I love that stuff. Usuually I plant collards and cabbage in the fall garden for them over the winter, but this year didn’t because of this lagging arm.

    They give me the most beautiful eggs and I have to take care of them. Not that they are really ‘friendly’ hens….but I am going to get 6 more this early spring and raise the chicks in the bedrooom where it is the warmest….I love to hear them churp….like little aliens…they vocalize in so many tongues!

    Thanks for reading and your comment, Hedge. Much appreciated….

    Jane

  18. ladynyo Says:

    thank you, Mary! I think direct experinece with life makes for poems…at least it does for me. LOL!

    Thank you for reading and your comment. I will make the rounds today, and hit up your site~

    Jane

  19. ladynyo Says:

    thank you, Marousia….I had to look up what ‘narrative poem’ meant a while ago. I think I am getting a bit more used to it, now. LOL!

    Thank you for reading and for your comment.

    Jane

  20. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Gay! Life gets in the way for both of us….Glad you are getting home, sooner or later.

    I am constantly amazed when I read your comments and a few others….you make my poor poetry better than it is! LOL! To say, I learn more about my own attempts at poetry than what I am conscious about. Something like this. But you sure write a lovely analysis of this poem. I hope it does have that effect on readers.

    I just know that life gives a huge vision to the possibilities of poetry out there…outside our windows. Everything amazes me. Everything is so full of some promise.

    Thank you, Gay…I’ll be over today….

    Jane

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