Today's poem is by Jamie Ross


So I'm looking at this thing—let's
call it a bear. Let's call it the soul. Let's
call it
, we were calling in our red

caps with the fleurs-de-lis, up against
the line, our khaki shirts, green-forest
shorts, our blue, blue scarves, we

were up against a line that wouldn't
back down, between two trees in front
of the tent with somebody's hands, most

of the hands gripped to the poles as
if to hold it up, the soul I mean, the
shaking in the body just across

the twine stretched there
in the twigs on the dirt and the bodies
of the insects, a smell of grease and

shovels shoveling down a fog with its
sheet of superstition, clothes hanging up
and I'm wanting them back

because I'm right here
where it's rising like a bear, huge gaping
mouth, sharp gruesome teeth, but

I don't have a hat, some pants
more like pajamas, my scan disappeared
before the orientation—and there's

no room left to grip, it's
a four-man tent, for their hands only—It's
a fact my shoes are loose and I've got

a bloodshot eye: the other one's floating
off to the left, up into the orbit
so Iím staring at this bear

and I'm looking direct, nothing in my fingers
dripping to the fog and it's got
some things to say—something like

a scream, more like a groan—just beyond
the line where it's more than wretched,
lifting its paws in the searchlight

of a throat with its red grieving horror and
the green snake teeth and the blue
thought of fear that everyone has left

with the pocket guide to slipknots, they've
taken the flashlights, jackknives, the matches,
and the dice. It knows I'm alone. It knows

like a planet: Oh, I'm ugly. It knows
like Saturn. So I step across. It
knows I'm screwed. But it's got my eye

and I need to see.

Copyright © 2006 Jamie Ross All rights reserved
from Beloit Poetry Journal
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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