Jeff Knight (just_jeff) wrote,
Jeff Knight

"Coon Song," by A.R. Ammons

I got one good look
in the raccoon's eyes
when he fell from the tree
came to his feet
and perfectly still  
seized the baying hounds
in his dull fierce stare,
in that recognition all
decision lost,
choice irrelevant, before the
battle fell  
and the unwinding
of his little knot of time began:

Dostoevsky would think
it important if the coon    
could choose to
be back up the tree:    
or if he could choose to be
wagging by a swamp pond
dabbling at scuttling    
crawdads: the coon may have
dreamed in fact of curling  
into the holed-out gall    
of a fallen oak some squirrel
had once brought  
high into the air
clean leaves to: but
reality can go to hell    
is what the coon's eyes said to me:
and said how simple
the solution to my    
problem is: it needs only
not to be: I thought the raccoon
felt no anger,    
saw none; cared nothing for cowardice,
bravery; was in fact  
bored at    
knowing what would ensue:
the unwinding, the whirling growls,  
exposed tenders,    
the wet teeth--a problem to be
solved, the taut-coiled vigor  
of the hunt
ready to snap loose:
you want to know what happened,    
you want to hear me describe it,
to placate the hound's-mouth  
slobbering in your own heart:    
I will not tell you: actually the coon
possessing secret knowledge
pawed dust on the dogs    
and they disappeared, yapping into
nothingness, and the coon went  
down to the pond    
and washed his face and hands and beheld
the world: maybe he didn't:  
I am no slave that I
should entertain you, say what you want
to hear, let you wallow in
your silt: one two three four five:
one two three four five six seven eight
nine ten:
all this time I've been  
counting spaces
while you were thinking of something else)
mess in your own sloppy silt:
the hounds disappeared    
yelping (the way you would at extinction)
into--the order
breaks up here--immortality:  
I know that's where you think the brave
little victims should go:
I do not care what
you think: I do not care what you think:
I do not care what you
think: one two three four five    
six seven eight nine ten: here we go
round the here-we-go-round, the here-we-
go-round, the here-we-go-round: coon will end in disorder at the
teeth of hounds: the situation
will get him:    
spheres roll, cubes stay put: now there
one two three four five  
are two philosophies    
here we go round the mouth-wet of
what I choose    
is youse:    

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