Today's poem is by David Wagoner


You're crouching on the thin top of a fence
above a dog barking itself almost
inside out. You're playing one variation
of Possum: holding still, not doing anything.

The loud creature three feet under you,
who wants to be your opponent, doesn't know
how to make you scuttle or even move,
let alone come down and die. Your strategy

is simply to do nothing, especially
anything foolish, which is infuriating
to some of the other species who have to do
something right now, no matter what, always.

There's nothing to do about your shape, your color,
or your smell. They apparently seem
outrageous to this one. Your forerunners long ago
quit thinking they could outrun anything

with two or four feet, so your tactics include
waiting. Waiting till others get tired of waiting
and are called back to stay in their safe houses
and are put in their safe cages and scolded

and told to keep still, to go to sleep, to forget
all about what they're not allowed to do
in the quiet of the night when seemingly
some worthless parts of it are good to eat.

Copyright © 2009 David Wagoner All rights reserved
from New Ohio Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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