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Spring/Summer 1995, Volume 12.2

Poetry

 

Kenneth Brewer


Kenneth W. Brewer has published six collections of poetry. His most recent publication is a fine art book of poems with woodcuts by artist Harry Taylor (
Hoping for All, Dreading Nothing). He currently directs the Graduate Studies Program in the English Department at Utah State University.

The Man I Hate

I don't miss.
I can hit
a blue-winged teal
at fifty yards.
My father
taught me
to shoot.
He never
missed,
either.
He taught me
hunting
is like life.
You pick
your target,
kill it
and move on.
When I
put the bead
on a duck,
I know
it's already dead.
There's a moment—
a split second—
between
sighting
the target
and pulling
the trigger
I feel
a power
beyond
all things.
I see
something alive
and I know—
I KNOW—
it's already
dead.
Last year,
last day of the hunt,
I didn't
shoot.
I called in
a greenhead,
a single
flying high
along the river.
It wheeled
at my call,
dove right
for my blind.
I watched
the wings
fold back
and catch
the air
as it set.
I could
already
see it
crumple and splash
in the pond.
But I couldn't
shoot.
Froze.
It just
came in,
landed
in my dekes,
paddled
around
with its head
up.
I could see
my father
frowning.
"Shit,
boy,
not shooting's
the same
as missing.
Kill
the damn
thing,
you pussy."
I could have. I know
that.
It won't
ever
happen
again.

 

Son and Pheasant

I told my son
about the pheasant cock
I shot last week.

How the dog caught the scent
at the edge of a canal
lined with cattails, head-high.

How the cock ran for cover,
winding a hundred yards,
the dog out of sight.

All I could see
were puffs of broken cattail pods
riding the air

where the chase twisted, turned
till the cock stopped.
I could hear

the dog's tail wagging,
thwacking the heavy stalks
and I knew the cock

would fly any moment,
burst into air
all feathers and whirring

like a jack-in-the-box
popping out through a chandelier
of bamboo shoots and whistles,

having waited as long as it could,
having held death
in its breath.

Later, I left it
hanging in the garage,
its limp neck

a feathered glory,
blood dripping
from its dark beak.

 

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