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Brain and Bones

Jim Harrison is an author, a novelist, an anthologist, a screenwriter--but mostly, he's a poet.

Book Cover Shamefully, I must confess that while full of springtime ambition and whatever else is in that season that spurs us to grasp beyond our reach, I had intended to assemble a gaggle of poetry titles coincident with National Poetry Month--though that commemoration has about as much weight as National Lawn Trash Month and National Septic Tank Renewal Month--nonetheless, as Plato warned (sort of), poetry makes us do crazy things, thus I will periodically try to make up for my oversight.

Jim Harrison, who has authored more than 30 books (novels, novellas, an anthology of food writing, nonfiction, poetry, screenplays) sees himself foremost as a poet: "Poetry, there's still a bit of the burning bush aspect of poetry descending on you, bang, you know? As they say, you never quite see it coming." He has published 12 collections of poetry--his latest is In Search of Small Gods (Copper Canyon Press), which contains this gem:
"The Quarter"

Maybe the problem is
that I got involved with
the wrong crowd of gods
when I was seven. At first
they weren't harmful and
only showed themselves
as fish, birds, especially
herons and loons, turtles,
a bobcat and a small bear,
but not deer and rabbits
who only offered
themselves as food. And
maybe I spent too much
time inside the water of
lakes and rivers.
Underwater seemed like
the safest church I could
go to. And sleeping
outside that young might
have seeped too much
dark into my brain and
bones. It was not for me
to ever recover. The other
day I found a quarter in
the driveway I lost at the
Mecosta County Fair in
1947 and missed out on
five rides including the
Ferris wheel and the
Tilt-A-Whirl. I sat in anger
for hours in the bull barn
mourning my lost quarter
on which the entire tragic
history of earth is
written. I looked up into
the holes of the bulls'
massive noses and at the
brass rings puncturing
their noses which allowed
them to be led. It would
have been an easier life if
I had allowed a ring in my
nose, but so many years
later I still find the spore
of the gods here and there
but never in the vicinity
of quarters.
Spore of the gods, indeed.
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