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She has stopped killing flies
since the news arrived.
It seems odd to me
This sudden Buddhist impulse

If anything,
I'd guess
flies might mean less
in the cosmic scales.
Their gross blue bodies, fat and dense
pressed down beside
her newly-fragile self.

But Dawkin’s wisdom fails
in the twisted guts
of honest human dread
And all things apt to dust
become more holy
in their ending.

So, on her windowsill
they smack and fizz
with senseless vigor,
trapped in little huts of upturned glass.
And she’ll set them free come morning:
‘Take your chances
in some other unscreened room
where life is more robust,
more cavalier
than the troubled altruistic ghost of it
that skulks around
these days
in here.’

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The following comments are for "Apt to dust"
by MobiusSoul

I'm confused about this poem and it's references, although I get the general picture. I didn't understand what "the news" is, or who this Dawkins person might be.

I thought the last stanza was pretty great.

( Posted by: gomarsoap [Member] On: August 5, 2006 )

Would you be refering to
Richard Dawkins? check him out on google...
I enjoyed this poem although I don't agree with Save the flies...attitude...if they invade my's every woman or insect for himself/herself and I have a big fly swatter...Kacee

( Posted by: Nitz Kitty [Member] On: August 5, 2006 )

Apt to Swat
I liked this one. It made me curious about the news, too, though I don't mind so much not knowing what it was. Loved the three lines that gave this poem its title.

As for me, though, I am one fly-flattening monster.

( Posted by: chinadoll [Member] On: August 5, 2006 )

Gomar, China, Kacee: fly-blown
Dammit, none of you wise poet-people 'got it'? I guess I intended this to be a little cryptic, but downright impenetrable is no damn good! I'll rework it sometime when I've got a little distance. The 'news' could be any scare gut-wrenching enough to make one reevaluate the state of robust good health that I, at least, generally take for granted (i.e. 'newly-fragile self'). When life grows suddenly exquisitely fragile, it is perversely impossible to end any other lives without compunction. (Poetic licence as a matter of fact, I never kill bugs til they bite me anyway.)

Kacee, I'm impressed by your Googling diligence: Richard Dawkins it was. Author of 'The selfish gene' - an evolutionary theory that, basically, our genes are designed to persist at all costs. Hence (this is an admitted stretch of the biology) you might say that we swat flies because they're disease-carrying pests: ending their lives is advantageous to us. I was going to write 'Darwin's wisdom' but traded accessibility for accuracy. I'm way too dorky to be a good poet...

( Posted by: MobiusSoul [Member] On: August 5, 2006 )

Wrestling With The Word
Reading your comment, I understand it better.

I think what threw me was the first two lines, which I now understand, because it assumed I already knew something, and I didn't. Which is not necessarily the poem's fault. Sometimes literature makes me dense.

I still love that last stanza. What a great image it leaves in the mind! The "smack and fizz" of those flies trapped in upturned glasses. I can see the woman sitting there. The entire last stanza is great, everything in it. The next-to-last stanza is good, too.

Good luck with whatever you do with it. At the very least, you got a decent poem just as it is right now.

( Posted by: gomarsoap [Member] On: August 6, 2006 )

Mobius Dust
Love your poem, as usual. I got off to a rough start with this one, though.

"she should care more now" read to me first as a judgment of what the girl should do. I saw immediately that I needed to reread those lines to get the intended meaning.

This is a case where it may be easy to place the wrong emphasis on the words; getting an incorrect interpretation. Perhaps it is just me, an ol' hilljack or something akin to one, who is not looking for such a construction. Maybe we can just chalk that up as serving to give me more world experience.

A couple of different things come to mind that would have made it easier for me right there in that first stanza. One would be to add "that" to "It's odd", for: "It's odd that/she should..." Another way would be to replace "should" with "would".

Regardless of all that; once I got your premise the poem was a great read the second time through, with wonderful interplay of words and a gentle pull to a place I've been and seen in others.

Now I try to teach my daughter about issues of life and the earth- things of which I have never come to any absolutes. Just back from a couple of days camping with her and Mary. Plenty of this in play.

Your poem goes beyond what I mention, but I'll close for now. Gotta take care of some of that life stuff.

~ John

( Posted by: Flonigus [Member] On: August 7, 2006 )

Apt to dust
Thought I "got it". But there's probably something I missed. And I admit, my younger brother had to tell me who Richard Dawkins was.

The last stanza was perfect for me. There's something fragile and lonely that kind of reminds me of Emily Dickinson, (although that might just be that it recalls "I heard a fly buzz" you know, what with containing flies an' all. Think there is something lonely about the realisation of our own mortality, our own and by extension everybody and everything else's. That's the sense I got from this piece. And I can understand the irrational not-squashing of flies, it works really well, a small change that speaks volumes about a person profoundly effected.

"And all things apt to dust/ become more holy/in their ending." Is great too. Captures the gap between what we know and what we feel. This one stays with you (with me at least) not just the individual lines but the overall feeling. Made me think.


( Posted by: AuldMiseryGuts [Member] On: August 7, 2006 )

Gomar,Flonigus, AMG - dust
Such thoughtful, sensible comments... and I have shamefully little time right now to reply, nevermind to read all you peoples' recent posts. I'll do better soon, I promise.

That first stanza is definitely due for a rewrite - I guess I intended the reader to only discover the nature of the 'news' as the poem went on... but I think after all it should be clearer at the outset (Gomar, you are anything but dense and I am anything but literature!). And John's point is well taken - how about:

She has stopped killing flies
since the news arrived.
It seems odd to me
that she cares more now
for their petty

For the rest... there's still some tweaking to do, but I'm pleased that the last stanza (my favorite too) spoke to some commonality. I really like the way you interpret it re life-lessons, John - that somehow puts a positive spin on a horrible experience. And Shannon, fragility and loneliness, exactly so: we seem to live in this fragile world on a happy tissue of false guarantees - perhaps we couldn't do otherwise. Or perhaps that's just me. I confess to having less time for Emily Dickenson than the intelligent believe I should have... but I'm flattered by your allusion all the same :)

( Posted by: MobiusSoul [Member] On: August 8, 2006 )

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