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Elegy to a Black Bear Head Poorly Stuffed and Mounted

Whoever did this must be

kin to that matador I saw

booed out of the arena for not

basking longer in the task.

Why else would your snout

be sewn in that hasty, ragged

line and set off center?

Your eyes are two wool holes

with nail heads for pupils.

When I peer into the rust

of them I can’t even see

an oblong version of myself.

Bear, if this is an elegy,

you ought to have a name

more specific than Bear.

Not that you care, but I am

going to call you Lou Reed.

Because whoever made him

quit working with the face

still a bunch of half-done

lumps of clay. Also because

he’s one whose output

illustrates how art is not

getting what you want.

Art is getting only what

he decides to give you.

Lou Reed, you give me

the impression that a career

spent so close to killing

only becomes more intolerable

as it goes on. Even if

one is elegant, thoughtful,

and perfect at it, after

a while one’s limbs are

going to revolt. Lou Reed,

this is what I think. When

the taxidermist hammered

those nails into your eyes

it was the final step

in his coming to hate

anyone who could look

at his life’s work work and not

regret being human.

Once he finished up with you,

he left his studio. He walked

to a lake where a pair of swans

were doing circles. He liked

the elegance of their bodies

on the water. He gave thanks

that the way they mate for

life makes these creatures

no less adamant and cruel

First he fed the swans

the crackers he had brought.

When those were gone

he let them have his hands.

from The Newest Employee of the Museum of RuinFind more by Charlie Clark at the library

Copyright © 2020 Charlie Clark
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

Published in Charlie Clark Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.