SKY BUSTING from “Three Blocks West of Wonderland”

I’m working on a new one about Haida Gwaii while sucked into the Plath vortex again after finding a volume in a used book store. Not good. As moving as her work is, I wind up feeling weak, pathetic and unworthy. Still, I persist. Surely I must be mad as well.


To the hillbilly born
a cursed monarch who swore
this pothunter could not be her blood
with his short gait, sight, temperament.
They must have abducted her
from a conclave of columned nobles,
the bastards, and this she declared
into her black lab’s ruff. Unless her peeps
traded her for gasoline in a time of war?
Splitting dog hairs, she knew this much;
she would never know.
She must adapt and learn. She scrubs
and sweeps though never convincingly,
swift clips to the noggin ever reminding her.

Neither was she popular with him in the marsh,
standing as he knelt next to her, shotgun
between them, instructing her how to squeeze
the trigger slowly, taking the kick in his shoulder,
disgusted at her recoil, terror, the mutt’s whining

and nuzzling. Her aim ruined, gaze diverted
by bulrushes and horse tails, her common sense
overloaded with the sweet smell of grass
and peat loam, its deep, black grave-bed lure.
Sky busters infuriated him too, those idiot
swellheads taking 60-yard shots, crippling birds
that can’t be recovered. Wasting rounds.
They’re no outdoorsmen. Same with deer.
He’d never use his 30 ought six
at five hundred yards, even with all
that knockdown. He wants to fill his freezer,
not lay the countryside full of rotting game.

At dusk it was she who saw the foxfires.
Only she had an ember
to light their way through the bog,
past the shooting and blasting. Well out of range
yet a sitting duck at the table, old man
commanding Quiet, fouling the nest, wounding
with the back of his hand, waiting for her to fall
into place, to find her place. He had not forgotten
his Greek myths, named her Diana for a reason
and she was his daughter. He didn’t need sons.
She was the warrior, the pilot, the victor.
She would learn. She would believe.

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