Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE SIGN: 3, by JAMES HARRISON

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE SIGN: 3, by                 Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography
First Line: Not centaur nor archer but man
Last Line: Bounding away into his green clear music.
Alternate Author Name(s): Harrison, Jim
Subject(s): Astrology & Astrologers; Mythology; Night; Bedtime

Not centaur nor archer but man,
man standing exhausted at night
beneath a night sky so deep and measureless,
head thrown back he sees his constellation,
his brain fleshes it and draws the lines
which begin to ripple then glimmer,
heave and twist, assume color, rear up,
the head high, the chest and torso gleaming,
beard glistening, flanks strapped with muscle,
hooves stomping in place, stomping night's floor,
rearing again, fading, then regaining terror,
the bow in hand, a strung bow, and arrow fitted,
drawn back, the arrow molten-tipped.
Slay. He only still "slays."
And when the arrow reaches earth I'll die.

̺ ̺ ̺

But in morning light, already shrill and hot
by ten, digging a well pit, the sandy earth crumbles
and traps the legs, binding them to earth; then digging
again, driving a shallow well with a sledge,
the well-tip shaded as an arrowhead, sledge hitting
steel with metallic ring and scream; the pump head
and arm bound to pipe, sitting in damp sand
with legs around the pipe pumping the first water
onto my chest and head - head swollen with pain
of last night's sign and leavings of whiskey.

̺ ̺ ̺

On another morning, the frost as a sheet
of white stubbled silk soon to melt into greenness,
partridge thumping ground with wings to call their mates,
near a river, thick and turbulent and brown -
a great buck deer, startled
from a thicket, a stag of a thousand stories,
how easily his spread antlers trace a back and bow
not unlike your own, then the arc of him
bounding away into his green clear music.

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