Saturday, February 9, 2013

Buckskin Elegy



image borrowed from bing


Buckskin Elegy

“At the Lychgate we may all pass as our own conduct
and our own judgement comes under a searching
review.”---Winston Churchill

The old man stood as still
as the deep shadows he hid within,
observing an ugly slash
of clear cut, big-butted stumps
and broken logs poking up
dead white like the forest’s bones,

watching with bright hazel eyes,
once those of a peregrine, squinting
now grimly behind ground glass,

staring at a densely wooden glen
teeming with game, creeks splashing
with fat sunset-bellied trout, air smoldering
with butterflies, sparrows, and the yellow jackets
of honey bees buzzing over thick bunches
of wild buttercups that no longer existed,
and had not for countless empty years;

patiently waiting for a scrub brush dog-sized
black-tailed buck he had been tracking,
pretty sure it would cross that scourged spot
on that dying hillside dotted in clumps
of tenth growth tiny sickly trees, scavenger oak
and twisted humpback thorny seedlings.

He could hear the echo of chainsaws
in the distance, disturbing the silence
as he saw only the tan ever-winding
logging roads on the sloping crew-cut shoulders
of nearby foothills;

there was no pristine hush beneath towering
brown-barked giants, no wild melodies
serenading him from the dark womb
of a thick forest--no forest;

he was startled by sudden movement
bursting into that bald scarred meadow
beneath him as a small three-point buck
stopped to survey the area, its nose,
ears and tail twitching, its back toward him.

The WWI 30-06 came up slowly to the man’s
patient shoulder, peering into the peep sight
with his good eye--the big gun cracked once
like a broken tree and the buck pitched
forward, the head shot splitting open
half its skull, shattering one of its antlers,
dropping down on its front legs,
refusing to die easily,

and the old man heard its death cry,
a short high bleat that froze his blood,
for the sound hung in the air
and the animal had called his name
clearly.

The hunter turned away, moving
like he was in a bad dream,
leaving the bleeding buck
for the several carrion birds
that perched in the thorn bushes
gulping the new blood smell,

who took to wing immediately,
their red eyes on the meal,
their putrid breath puffing,
their talons stretching before them,

paying no heed to the deerslayer
struggling off in the gathering gloom. 


Glenn Buttkus

February 2013

Posted over on dVerse Poets

Would you like to hear the author read this poem to you?

8 comments:

Claudia said...

oh heck...it called his name...what a terrifying moment...and how it just changes everything...excellent story telling as well glenn..

Brian Miller said...

dang man...intense...and magical...and sad on some levels...i wonder at what drives this man...and what haunts him as well for the deer to have called his name...

Laurie Kolp said...

I went hunting once and thank goodness we saw nothing but a herd of wild hogs run by.

Kim said...

Wow, had to read that twice, intense. So he killed the 3 pointer because he couldn't find his black tail and the looming loggers had him, his mind, his self. Then he had to walk away after the slow death had called his name. Nice story with depth.

turtlememoir said...

absolutely mesmerizing, this story-poem, tight-told & poignant, heartbreaking - it's been a while since i've read anything that comes close to this in terms of how i was affected by the reading of your poem

Dave King said...

and the old man heard its death cry,
a short high bleat that froze his blood,
for the sound hung in the air
and the animal had called his name
clearly.

The verse form just magnifies the horror and menace. Chillingly excellent.

lucychili said...

argh, humanity, the crewcut hillside is a familiar sight sadly.

Raivenne said...

Oh wow. I had to read this a couple of times, intense. Hearing his name called... Now this is a true narrative and a gripping one from beginning end.