Muse Story

My friend David Huddle imagines a poem’s
muse as one of the birds auditioning
in his garden, a small but ferocious voice
nobody sitting among the ferns can turn
away from, it’s worse if you stand at glass
keeping the snow and brilliant holly berries
outside, in a teasing swirl of ice-wind, say.
I like his thinking. I’ve felt bird spirits
fly inside my head, songs trying to get out,
some controller watching the time, a faceless
spark-dodging denizen of a really dark place
not letting happen what shouldn’t yet. She,
that’s how I think of this monster, can swell
a huge room with a sound an angel would
screw you to have. She can whisper the way
a snowflake does falling still at last, you
only have to feel her hands hover to know
whatever she’s got to touch will be better
than the best orgasm you’ll ever dream.
I think the sidelong look she has is a hawk’s,
the glance a hummingbird’s beak, but for
full-on character display she has the rising
owl-skim just above your skull, talons
held up barely as she soars from a tree.
She could touch you anytime and your brain
blister out like a rose, your tongue turn hard
as holly blackened by winter. I don’t think
a man chooses in this story. Maybe a cloud
of them arrives Thursday night. They have to
do something to you then, and then flee, all
except the one who chooses you, listening.
There’s no accounting for taste, someone’s
bent over laughing where yours comes from.
Jesus Christ, someone’s saying. Really, him?

Dave Smith

Dave Smith

Dave Smith is the author of many books of poetry, fiction, criticism, and memoir, including The Wick of Memory: New and Selected Poems, 1970–2000, Little Boats, Unsalvaged: Poems, 1992–2004, Hunting Men: Reflections on a Life in American Poetry, and Hawks on Wires: Poems 2005-2010. Former editor of The Southern Review, he has received numerous honors, including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Rockefeller Foundation, and membership in the Fellowship of Southern Writers.
Dave Smith

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Author: Dave Smith

Dave Smith is the author of many books of poetry, fiction, criticism, and memoir, including The Wick of Memory: New and Selected Poems, 1970–2000, Little Boats, Unsalvaged: Poems, 1992–2004, Hunting Men: Reflections on a Life in American Poetry, and Hawks on Wires: Poems 2005-2010. Former editor of The Southern Review, he has received numerous honors, including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Rockefeller Foundation, and membership in the Fellowship of Southern Writers.