Gerry LaFemina

July 21, 2020 LaFemina Gerry



The large goose does what it always will,
pushes aside the smaller fowl for crusts, ducks
its head below the surface briefly, then makes
a horrible, raspy honk. It’s lovely in its being
even if no one would call it attractive. I’ve come
to understand the Buddha nature once more,
an excuse I use sometimes to leave the house
& the two Bodhisattva cats that meditate there
on cushions of sunlight. Once, as a child
I was chased by a giant gander, nearly three feet
tall, bill open, dirty feathers fluffed with rage.
My mother laughing with her camera.
Who wouldn’t think it comedic? So often
I’ve fled from anger, even my own.
The sun like a gong reflected in the pond
vibrating in silence. At water’s edge,
a muck of mud & guano. I’ve come to repent.
The birds, to mate & cohabitate. Maybe to rest.
They eye me with a distrust & hunger I’ve seen
on certain panhandlers in distant cities.
On the far shore a boy pitches stones side arm
so they skip four five six times
across the surface. I can almost hear him
cheer, arms raised at a new personal record.
Then his mother comes with a bread bag,
takes his hand. Science has it that it’s dangerous
to feed bread to birds & still so many come.
Rumor has it a bobcat roams the area,
the mauled remains of duck & small game
have decorated the weeds & walking paths.
Fur has been collected. Scat, too.
It stalks quietly, keeps to itself. Good
Nietzschean that it is, it, too, could teach me
about appetite, about patience, about will
to power, about viscera. That noise it makes:
what little difference between a growl & purr.

Gerry LaFemina’s latest books are the poetry collection The Story of Ash (Anhinga, 2018) and a volume of prose poems, Baby Steps for Doomsday Prepping (Madville, 2020). His essays on poets and prosody, Palpable Magic, came out on Stephen F Austin University Press and his textbook, Composing Poetry: A Guide to Writing Poems and Thinking Lyrically was released by Kendall Hunt. A noted literary arts activist who has served on the Board of Directors of the AWP and edited numerous literary journals and anthologies, LaFemina is the former director of the Center for Literary Arts at Frostburg State University, where he is a Professor of English, serves as a Poetry Mentor in the MFA Program at Carlow University and is a current Fulbright Specialist in Writing, Literature, and American Culture.