“The Fox”

Young Red Fox, nationalgeographic.com

This happened last week, and brought forth the poem. The event made me think deeply where we stand with the other species who share the world.

Lady Nyo

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

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 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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5 Responses to ““The Fox””

  1. Nick Says:

    Hi Jane, this reads more smoothly than the draft I saw earlier this week. In particular, the second half of the poem is now more clearly articulated and pursues a philosophical line of thought that is quite unexpected after the first half. Well done!


  2. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Nick! That is why I sent you both drafts…the first, and the final. Two pairs of eyes is so much better for these things, neh?

    That second part, because it is clearly divided from each other, where the second (philosophical) part begins with :”No. I’ll stand with the foxes”…well, that can get split and diverse, and it took some rewrite to try to get out what I wanted…I had a very vague idea, but that is how it goes here. I knew there was a necessary stronger statement to be made, and I just had to struggle to it in the end.

    Yep, articulation is the correct word for it… there are many ways to go on this ecological statement and it was tempting to add more and more but it also would have muddied the waters or diffused the point of the encounter. It’s like a painting; when are you finished with a poem?

    Thank you, Nick,,,for reading and commenting, but for lending your own poetical abilities to this poem.



  3. ManicDdaily Says:

    Hi Jane – I’m with you and the foxes . I’m not so keen on vermin though! Of course, the foxes go after them.

    On the other hand, I also don’t eat chicken (vegetarian for many years!) (Ha!)

    This is a very interesting poem – takes us on a real journey though the fox’s eyes and beyond. Your pointe are all very wise.

    Thanks – PS I got your book and started it – wonderful- love the Japanese stuff especially -I’ve been evacuated so haven’t been able to finish -but should get home soon. k.


  4. ladynyo Says:

    Hi K!
    Oh my God! My thoughts and heart are with you right now. What devastation for this entire area. Originally coming from about an hour from the Jersey shore, the pix of it all are so painful.
    I couldn’t in good heart link to dversepoets yesterday because my mind just go there: the destruction of lower NY and the entire coast of NJ took up my attention. So many of my relatives are there, still, including my 100 year old Aunt Jean….and a cousin and his wife who are in Barneget. I was talking to them by phone when their power went out and all they had was cell phones…then the cell towers went down.

    Hopefully, soon, you will be back in your home and things will right themselves. Did talk to a woman at Whole Foods who was in extreme anxiety, she said her apartment building was being evacuated and here she was in Atlanta. There is little you can do to comfort in these situations. Little of merit.

    Thank you, K. for commenting on this poem. I was first driven to ‘violence’ on the side of my hen, but then considered the bigger picture. LOL! These ecological issues are deep and all prevailing, and need our deepest considerations. That second half of the poem got rewritten somewhat because I realized there was a personal statement to make in this piece and I was working it out. And Good For You! for being a vegetarian. I am going that way faster….with a husband who loves meat, it’s a struggle, but I think it can be done. Bulgar is my new grain of choice lately….

    And thank you for buying “A Seasoning of Lust”, (2009). I don’t think I would pack so much diverse writings into something like a first book again. LOL! I guess I have settled down somewhat. Yes, I like the Japanese “very” short stories best, but then again, they propelled me to more of the same stuff, but longer pieces.

    Most importantly, K…I hope you are back in your home soon. And that things dry up. Blessings.



  5. ManicDdaily Says:

    Thanks, Jane, for your kindness.


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