Mudlark Flash No. 80 (2013)

Refrain | Poems
by Rebecca Foust

Click | Dark Ecology | spec house foundation cut into hillside
Rebuke | To N., Serving Curried Rice for Food-Not-Bombs


Your cat curled at the door, tongue like a dark liver 
thrust through her teeth, 

poisoned by eating a mouse that had eaten d-CON, 
click—your son’s testicular lump 

overnight has tripled-in-size—whirr-click. The kid 
who tossed your morning paper? 

Blown up, his third tour in Iraq, and what is that click-
whirr-click, like-a-dry-insect sound?  

Where the world was intact now grins a wound, 
there’s a hole in the hull and you list. 

Click-whir-click—below your feet, fracked bedrock 
shifts. Click—the pixels pull in—whirr-click.

Now you can see them resolve, the pixeled years,
inside the framed sum of your fears.

He’s come. There’s a boy in the hall with a Glock 
and crossed bandoliers.


On Paul Kingsnorth’ s article in Orion, Jan/Feb  201
I’ve been with you on “Progress Trap,” 
ever since I understood washing machines 
meant we could change sheets every week 
instead of month. And that Hoovers allow 
no more excuses for dirt anywhere. 
I give you TV is evil, and Facebook a leech 
gorged  on the silver ichor of time. 
And I guess one can read Kaczynski 
for his ideas on progress, leaving out the bits 
where he blew to bits 
the fingers of postal workers and teachers. 

But I won’t give you that that green line 
glowing the edge of the bare hedgerow, 
or the bloom, sudden, single, and lush 
on the magnolia. Nor the twenty-three bones 
in each human hand, its own wondrous machine. 
Nor your weird, inward-turned schadenfreude
so close to gloating, going on and on about 
The Harvest. Coming. And your singing scythe.

spec house foundation cut into hillside

often in the dawn or dusk 
and one night by moonlight 

I saw them 
picking a delicate way 

down a bending path 
no one else could see 

ripple of silver leaves 
and out stepped a fawn 

shy as my fey boy
all long limbs     dark eyes 

and twitch of one ear 
in the still canyon air

they lived there once 
a family of mule deer 

they lived there


What does the loon cry out to the lake 
and the lake repeat to the rain? 
The birds sing high in the old pine, 
but this cabin’s wide floorboards are like
a betrayal: raw, white as bone,
still sticky with sap. We compost, we sort
trash disappeared by SUV transport  
to a plant where nothing alive is sown
or grows. Except for the black dotted line
of crows, pecking at human alluvium,
paper and plastic massing a mountain
we finally cannot not see. What does the loon
cry out to the lake, the lake repeat to the rain?
What is the meaning of any refrain?

To N., Serving Curried Rice for Food-Not-Bombs

Child, your taper is so slender
and burns so hot 
in this wind like a wall of asphalt. 
Your hands cup 
the paper plate into a skiff to float 
you away from the continent
of one man’s hunger. Your eyes 
are flame, so full 
of his pain, I cannot bear to look in.

Because of you I must look in. 
His eyes are blue, too. He tells 
his name—Tampa—and each call 
he heard at dawn in the brush: 
Mockingbird. Robin. Chickadee. Thrush.

Rebecca Foust’s “Bee Fugue,” also known as Mudlark Flash No. 52 (2009), was included in her most recent book, God, Seed, which won the 2010 Foreword Book Award and was a finalist for the Mass Book Award. Other books of hers include All That Gorgeous Pitiless Song (2010 Many Mountains Moving Book Award), two chapbooks, and a new manuscript recently shortlisted for the Dorset and Kathryn A. Morton prizes. She has new poems in current or forthcoming issues of The Cincinnati Review, The Hudson Review, Narrative, North American Review, Sewanee Review, and other journals; essays and book reviews in American Book Review, Calyx, Poetry Flash, Prairie Schooner, Rumpus, and elsewhere; and a short story in the current issue of Chautauqua Journal.

Copyright © Mudlark 2013
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