Today's poem is by James Davis May
That's what the voiceover calls the family of orcas,
because over generations, through language and imitation,
they have preserved their methods for hunting stingrays.
Approaching its prey, the orca will turn upside down,
clasp the ray in its teeth and then right itself so the
ray is upside down, which triggers some evolutionary typo
that floods the ray's brain with serotonin, rendering it
completely calm before the orca leisurely halves the body.
It was the sort of image any book would lose to,
no less the sentence I was reading that declaimed art
must be useful. After commercials, another clip, this one
of a mother protecting her pup by using the same technique
on a great white. Murky shadows in frothing water,
noises from circling birds and bewildered tourists on boats.
For fifteen minutes she held the shark belly-up
to the surface so water no longer rushed across the gills.
A slow suffocation, then flakes of masticated tissue,
the nutrient-rich liver consumed, and the body left for the gulls.
The book on the table for the night, Chelsea and I
went to dinner where I failed to make interesting or plausible
my idea about the orcashow their language works
like those ancient and useful mnemonic poems about farming
and laws. The end of writing, Johnson said, is to instruct;
the end of poetry is to instruct by pleasing.
We had no idea what to order. Then our French waiter
repeated Chelsea's question: "What is the duck stuffed with?
Madame, the duck is stuffed with more duck."
Copyright © 2016 James Davis May All rights reserved
from Unquiet Things
Louisiana State University Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission
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