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Chipmunk

by Brian Swann


If, as Kit Smart said, toads have compensation
     for being toads, “since there are stones whose
constituent particles are toads,” this particular
     Algonquian helps constitute a granite range
whose high inflections interweave. He flows
     between subject and object, neither and both.
He is, as the linguists say, non-configurational,
     and like the wind up there no one can tell
whence he came or where he goes. He’s all
     action, all tiny jerks whose frames overlap
so quick they almost look seamless, impulses
     received and renewed just about at the
same time and at the same fast speed but
     as if that is too slow and he could go faster
if he really tried. Impulse and impulse,
     each thought an impulse tried successfully
many times over. Try saying him.
     Try thinking him with no words.

 

Brian Swann is a Professor of Humanities at the Cooper Union in New York and has published poetry in Iowa Review, Ploughshares, Yale Review, Meter, Notre Dame Review, Seneca Review, and ISLE. His work also appears in the anthology September 11: American Writers Respond. In addition, he has edited Voices from Four Directions: Contemporary Translations of the Native Languages of North America, forthcoming with the University of Nebraska Press. (7/2003)


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