F. Daniel Rzicznek
Call me Yellowfoot. I eschew all magic and grow lean for the hunt. I have camped from Cluster to Infirm. I have camped on the sea of dead birds. I worry elders and they send doves for me to eat. Funerals do not cause skeletons—it is now the other way around, though we still bury above ground. I slouch, waiting for the inland tide to draw down through the satellite trees. I know monks, acolytes of aluminum, of leather dyed by blood, by their amputated hands, the touching curse they tried to cure. Now we allow them only to speak. The dogs they feed cower behind hummocks of brick and brass piping. I carry a long, bone-handled pole to pry the glowing boulders of pollen from the road. From Cloverleaf to Dryfreight, from Dryfreight to Epicenter, from Epicenter to Solidwater, the roads go on as before: series of scars, system of stems, proof of morning en route. Something I often wonder about: did the coyotes grow enormous from eating us, or from us not eating them? A thousand years back, the people who lived here called this place Ohio.
Devotions from the Temple of Moonlit Snow: somewhere a dog barked a blotch behind it I watch the evening’s face the larval words the diamond woods a gradual complete redaction morning brings reclusive evidence the living map of the stars the sloped meadow twelve geese on the molten treeline light pouring silver into huge explosive eyes blazing a mosaic in the white tracks figureeighting I want nothing but animals and home maybe four hundred yards quantuming the new snow the place we’ve made in the maples the dog didn’t notice them too busy rooting arctic weeds now with my tea the imagined wife still worries in my skull the prints stopping at the asphalt road the same codelike herd from two days ago last night I woke momentarily rushing bloodlike through the open the dog and I cross the stream breath fogs the air dusk at a pile of snowbound cerebral mulch the clearing ashwhite domed clouds vertiginous mute with hunger I look clear a winter maneuver forged by our opposite perceptions of time one performed only on this ground the night oaken in its insistence turbid unintelligible run home dog no sign
The wind takes its pleasure today: pushing garbage cans over and pushing the garbage up and down the spring avenues, less and less leafless, the sky taking on a smallness. Are there hydras in the water with you? Viking advice: enough jackrabbits shot through the neck and you’re a much greener cottonwood. I’m paratranslating Theodore Roosevelt at length (at best) and enduring the last glass of wine on earth. Battlements worn against a great jutting raggedness, the she-bear was frightened at the smell of blood, the smell of men cutting a narrative from the country. I wrote reports to my fifth grade class celebrating the grin, the family gymnasium. Bullly I exclaimed over and over, the camping-place a hundred yards from the Big Missouri. The last years fall through us—modern rifles, game with horse, big animals, merrily off, Polonius’s advice to Laertes, night air traveling in a little flock by itself. The wind stops and the basement fills with black flies—they watch from the creases of windows, move when the head is down. A bear with wings could be a sort of fly. At the spring meeting, the night air returned: contrary, clambering with a leg broken, but hunting.
F. Daniel Rzicznek's collections and chapbooks of poetry include Vine River Hermitage (Cooper Dillon Books 2011), Divination Machine (Free Verse Editions/Parlor Press 2009), Neck of the World (Utah State University Press 2007), and Cloud Tablets (Kent State University Press 2006). His individual poems have appeared in Boston Review, The New Republic, Orion, Mississippi Review, Hotel Amerika, Shenandoah, and Notre Dame Review. Also coeditor of The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Prose Poetry: Contemporary Poets in Discussion and Practice (Rose Metal Press 2010), Rzicznek teaches writing at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio.