Look at the blue whale’s skeleton displayed
outside a lab in Santa Cruz.
Look hard, even if it’s just a photograph,
because it’s living, trapped, and angry.
Whitened jawbones propped above the pavement.
Rigid static shoulders, empty eyes, tail petrified.
A rib cage bigger than a Baptist church.
Imagine your own bones scrubbed with thick
coarse brushes. The brain—they hired some men
to lug it away. The great flukes are in the Great Hall—
well, models of them. The four hundred vertebrae.
But don’t you hear the unsurrendered life?
Hums in your hair? and more, don’t you hear
his brother’s drums and bagpipes, out in the bay?
Late Summer, Wilson Mountain
On the paths up wizened Wilson Mountain,
pygmy mountain part of Dedham Mass,
turbulent with constant dozen motley dogs:
the drought I see has stuck up all the creeks,
so now you have the sloe black mud and reeling roots,
and too the leaves are falling, oak leaves, aspen,
falling in a thin foil porous to the sun
so far but some weeks hence a heavy noisy
slick and crashing trail of gold handprints,
hiding rocks and roots on paths up summit,
while supposed snow dares balance ghostly
in the bare treetops and waits for winter and the
dogs and all their black paw prints. I outlive old dogs;
nor man nor woman can live after me, nor anything
save mud and rocks. And I rebuke the rocks.
Robert Clinton holds an MFA from Goddard College. His poems have appeared in The Antioch Review, Hanging Loose, and Ploughshares, and elsewhere. Sarabande Books published Taking Eden in 1998. contact