Disassembled deer in Indiana woods
inspire a queer sort of music,
pitched to an ear of infinite range
but deaf to the nuanced performance
tragedy and comedy require, playing
everything equally droll.
Dionysian dogs drag loud bones,
one by one, through whispers
of snow, merry to make
a xylophone, or with any luck,
intact, an entire accordion, lock picked,
pearl-button cage pried open.
Here comes a clownish hound now
carrying a tune, neck stiff, nose held high,
—a majorette’s strut, a maenad’s smile—
proud to have scented the tenor out
in an otherwise rank baton, note bent
to a black clef (but hard, hard, the heart-
shaped hoof off in the hunter’s den,
upturned to heaven, holding the guilty gun)—
a bitter hook, the pan pipe stopped and fauns
scattered, wisely hid. There by the brook, hide
and head—a hollow look with brain pan gone,
but eyes left to cling, daft, like two dull coins
on a leather tambourine. The bright red creek
gurgles indifferent to what goes down
its goat-like throat, evening sun or flattened can
of Orange Crush—it’s all the same.
But those who drive out from Terre Haute
expecting to be soothed by nature’s song,
come upon a dismantled corpse, and scorn
the hunter’s chase, ought to recall the thrill
in ancient, antlered groves of fiery tongues
and golden Orpheus, flushed to crimson,
leaping above the flames, followed
by an ashen hush.
–Kathy Barbour (Jefferson County)
This poem previously appeared in Literary Imagination.
Kathy Knuckles Barbour, of Madison, Indiana teaches American literature and creative writing at Hanover College in Hanover, Indiana. Her poems have appeared in Literary Imagination, Atlanta Review, Southwest Review, Southeast Review, Raritan, Catch Up, and other magazines.
Indiana Humanities is celebrating National Poetry Month by sharing a poem from an Indiana poet every day in April (hand-selected by Indiana Poet Laureate George Kalamaras). Check in daily to see who is featured next!