“Primitives” by Harry Newman

Harry Newman


the night we saw the mouse
in our apartment
you wouldn’t take your feet
off the couch for an hour

staring at the space beneath
the dresser where it ran
and when you did finally
you stamped through the room

stamped and made noises
lifting your arms into the air
as in some tribal ritual
for scaring away the dead

I grabbed a broom to hunt it
I’ve killed a few I tell you
inching towards the corner
crouched and poised to strike

in slippers and underwear
a parody of early man
my cave with mice instead
of mastodons on the walls

how primitive we seemed
then primitive and hopeless
lost against the wild things
the ancient fears returning

from Rattle #25, Summer 2006


Harry Newman: “For me, poems usually start as a whisper. When I least expect it a word, an image, a feeling turns my mind. Or lines appear suddenly after pages of writing. I like the mystery of this, not knowing where a poem came from or where it’s going. If I had to say why I write, it’s to return to this state of not-knowing, to become less afraid of it, to leave the false familiarity of the known until it starts to seem strange as well.” (web)

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