print this page go back one page  

Peter Kane Dufault: Two Poems
Self Interest | Question From the Floor

Self Interest

It takes too much away, TV,
turns you to one cell in a global
gob of the same, its antennae—
at heights more proximate to God
than Babel ever thought to be—

aimed back upon itself        where all
is not well:        Noah's bow
is broken and the Natural
(Given) World without covenant
save for those solipsistical

aerials        orbiting, to no
more purpose than a garter snake
I saw once, curved into an O,
one end viewing the other        late—
ly pulverized by a back-hoe;

or a dead deer, another day,
stumbled-on in the woods, nothing
but black leather and bone—a prey
to dogs months earlier—that now,
its own grim monument, still lay

head raised and turned back        so
as to investigate its own
disbowelment and death-throe....
         My point is (pace Socrates)
Sometimes it's better not to know.

Question From the Floor

Could you call it "Dead Motion"—
that of the atoms, planets,
stars, galaxies—seeing
it can no more cease
than dead men can collect
old bones and resume being;

like them, oblivious
of its own existence,
of its own purpose, if any;
and all material things
mere eddyings in a tempest
of non-ontogeny

where opposed cataclysms—Light
and Gravity—dice each other
into infinitesimal
spirals and torques that, over
billiennia, coalesce
into Mineral, then Animal—

among which none remembers
its own provenience—neither
the crag nor the condor
nor any woman or man—
because the very elements-
of-the-elements are at war

so that at night we turn
somewhat to stone and
by day somewhat to fire,
whereas neither fire nor stone
even knows we or they exist?

                                          —I merely enquire.

Poet's Biography:
Peter Kane Dufault, a graduate of Harvard College and an ex-World War II bomber pilot, is the author of New Things Come Into the World (Lindisfarne Press, 1993). His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, The New Republic, Atlantic, Spectator (in England) and in many other magazines and anthologies including the current Norton Anthology of Poetry. His collected poems, The Ponderable World, covering more than five decades, is currently being assembled. He is known both in the US and in England for reciting from memory rather than reading from the page and has twice been poet-in-residence at the Cheltenham Literary Festival in England and is a former "visiting critic" at Williams College. A former news reporter and editor, he ran for Congress on the New York State Liberal Party Ticket as an anti-Vietnam War candidate in 1968 and since then has taught US History and been a soccer official in school leagues. He is also the leader of a small string band, playing for dances and parties and, in addition to banjo, fiddle and dance-calls, performs on the highland bagpipe (He has frequently piped at private events at little or no charge, in return for a contribution to environmental causes such as NRDC, Sierra Club, Earth Justice Legal Defense Fund, Defenders of Wildlife, and others).

© 1999 - 2003, by the poets featured herein.