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poemoftheweek poem of the week


Brian Brodeur



The Friesians are calving again.  It is that season

of awaiting the difficult births.  His father calls out

for Thomas to fetch the jack and tooling iron:

tendrils of flesh dangle from her hinds as the first

hoof kicks through.  If it is male, it will be sold for slaughter.

If female, stolen away—dragged if necessary

by the legs—and locked with the others

in the wailing pen.  For now, at least, there is one hoof

entering or leaving: either one is right.  His father

jamming his hand in the throttled womb

to heave this bucking, usable thing into existence

before it slaps headfirst onto the concrete.

There is always, like this, the miracle.  Then there is after.

The Blind Hunter           

                News Herald, Woodhaven, NY, December 14, 2003

I’ve seen him Sundays stalking

the reservoir, out for the day (or night, it doesn’t matter)

negotiating castellated ridges, blue mantlesj 

of pine.  Last week, the crack of his Winchester

scared a tree of mourning doves half-crazy,

and I went down to see if the old man was all right.j 

From the folds of brush, he stumbled

into the light, a whitetail fawn draped over his shoulder.

Deep down he must know the whole thing’s foolish:

chasing some whim could drive him off a cliff.

But what else is there for him?  He has no kids, buried

his wife last year.  I think of them togetherj 

lumbering through high grasses: her polished rifle

glinting, his dog let loose, waving their hands at me

like a couple drowning.  They had a system:j 

she’d tap his knee once when the deer came close, twice

when he was pointed in the right direction, sliding

her finger in circles across his thighj 

to two or three o’clock, then tap three times

when the deer stepped into range, four times to shoot.

He must’ve memorized the sound

of boots crackling in the brush.  (I’m sure he knows

the smaller, sharper crackling of the deer.)  Some days

I follow his trail to see what he does out there, how he’ll fare

in the endless mesh of ferns, the early ice,

trudging up the hillock through the leaves.

And as we breathe the same cold windj 

blown off the reservoir, it’s as if I’m waiting for him

to disappear into the sunken goldenrod.

Waiting for him to duck down in some blindj 

only he knows exists, to turn and wave

or pull the trigger when he feels—who knows?—

his wife’s hand tap four times against his thigh.


Not that they flourish

in hoarfrost, or flare up, bract

to bud, from blacktop

cracks ( I know

none will keep), but that each

petal glisters without

meaning to, spreads its spiny

roots through chaff, unfurls

in cold clusters, tussocks

shaking, feeds

on ditch water, the sweet

decay found there.


        -from Other Latitudes

BIO: Brian Brodeur is the author of the poetry collections Natural Causes (2012), which won the 2011 Autumn House Poetry Prize, and Other Latitudes (2008), winner of the University of Akron Press’s 2007 Akron Poetry Prize, as well as the chapbooks Local Fauna (Kent State University Press 2015) and So the Night Cannot Go on Without Us (2007). New poems and essays appear in American Poetry Review, The Hopkins Review, Measure, The Missouri Review, River Styx, The Southern Review, Southwest Review, and The Writer's ChronicleBrian is Assistant Professor of English, Creative Writing with a Poetry Focus at Indiana University East, where he coordinates the Veterans Writing Workshop of Richmond, Indiana.  ​

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