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Best Famous James Dickey Poems

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Written by James Dickey | |

FOR THE LAST WOLVERINE

 They will soon be down

To one, but he still will be
For a little while still will be stopping

The flakes in the air with a look,
Surrounding himself with the silence
Of whitening snarls.
Let him eat The last red meal of the condemned To extinction, tearing the guts From an elk.
Yet that is not enough For me.
I would have him eat The heart, and, from it, have an idea Stream into his gnawing head That he no longer has a thing To lose, and so can walk Out into the open, in the full Pale of the sub-Arctic sun Where a single spruce tree is dying Higher and higher.
Let him climb it With all his meanness and strength.
Lord, we have come to the end Of this kind of vision of heaven, As the sky breaks open Its fans around him and shimmers And into its northern gates he rises Snarling complete in the joy of a weasel With an elk's horned heart in his stomach Looking straight into the eternal Blue, where he hauls his kind.
I would have it all My way: at the top of that tree I place The New World's last eagle Hunched in mangy feathers giving Up on the theory of flight.
Dear God of the wildness of poetry, let them mate To the death in the rotten branches, Let the tree sway and burst into flame And mingle them, crackling with feathers, In crownfire.
Let something come Of it something gigantic legendary Rise beyond reason over hills Of ice SCREAMING that it cannot die, That it has come back, this time On wings, and will spare no earthly thing: That it will hover, made purely of northern Lights, at dusk and fall On men building roads: will perch On the moose's horn like a falcon Riding into battle into holy war against Screaming railroad crews: will pull Whole traplines like fibers from the snow In the long-jawed night of fur trappers.
But, small, filthy, unwinged, You will soon be crouching Alone, with maybe some dim racial notion Of being the last, but none of how much Your unnoticed going will mean: How much the timid poem needs The mindless explosion of your rage, The glutton's internal fire the elk's Heart in the belly, sprouting wings, The pact of the "blind swallowing Thing," with himself, to eat The world, and not to be driven off it Until it is gone, even if it takes Forever.
I take you as you are And make of you what I will, Skunk-bear, carcajou, bloodthirsty Non-survivor.
Lord, let me die but not die Out.
Copyright © 1966 by James Dickey Online Source - http://www.
theatlantic.
com/unbound/poetry/dickey/wolverine.
htm


Written by James Dickey | |

The Lifeguard

 In a stable of boats I lie still,
From all sleeping children hidden.
The leap of a fish from its shadow Makes the whole lake instantly tremble.
With my foot on the water, I feel The moon outside Take on the utmost of its power.
I rise and go our through the boats.
I set my broad sole upon silver, On the skin of the sky, on the moonlight, Stepping outward from earth onto water In quest of the miracle This village of children believed That I could perform as I dived For one who had sunk from my sight.
I saw his cropped haircut go under.
I leapt, and my steep body flashed Once, in the sun.
Dark drew all the light from my eyes.
Like a man who explores his death By the pull of his slow-moving shoulders, I hung head down in the cold, Wide-eyed, contained, and alone Among the weeds, And my fingertips turned into stone From clutching immovable blackness.
Time after time I leapt upward Exploding in breath, and fell back From the change in the children's faces At my defeat.
Beneath them I swam to the boathouse With only my life in my arms To wait for the lake to shine back At the risen moon with such power That my steps on the light of the ripples Might be sustained.
Beneath me is nothing but brightness Like the ghost of a snowfield in summer.
As I move toward the center of the lake, Which is also the center of the moon, I am thinking of how I may be The savior of one Who has already died in my care.
The dark trees fade from around me.
The moon's dust hovers together.
I call softly out, and the child's Voice answers through blinding water.
Patiently, slowly, He rises, dilating to break The surface of stone with his forehead.
He is one I do not remember Having ever seen in his life.
The ground I stand on is trembling Upon his smile.
I wash the black mud from my hands.
On a light given off by the grave I kneel in the quick of the moon At the heart of a distant forest And hold in my arms a child Of water, water, water.