Beasts for the Chase
publication date: 2008/10/01
trim: 9 x 6
price (paper): $14.95
ISBN (paper): 0
ISBN 13 (paper): 978-1-932511-65-9
The Lion of St. Jerome
Out of the fields of Scythia
Came the lion to St. Jerome:
He wanted to learn peace. His gilded jaws
No longer swung open,
Even, at last, giving up
What was not his to give. Then
How the deer rustled in the woods like phantoms
Of his hunger, his heart's desire.
Do not speak of loss without speaking of him.
In the end, to be betrayed by that mouth,
Without speech to defend itself: then he knew
He would never be one of them,
The sons of man. It was never the same
After that. The love had all gone out
Like a bird through an open door
Who will not come back even if you
Call it by name, though it used to eat
From your hand. And Jerome-insatiate,
Torrentuous, inconsolable as a water clock
Eroded by his own secret and terrible need
To love: how he was envious of that lion.
All his life knew he would be wasted
Unless he found his surrender. And that lion shot true.
Who among you would not be envious too?
Stories from the Tower
1. Sleeping Beauty
Now I have been asleep a long time.
I am grown opal, unbreakable: a white blade
stretched along the bed. Out my tower window
all the animals are arranged
like frozen jewels in the snow: the horses
dozing, their lumps of maple sugar
spitted with cold. And the birds, nodding
on the line, full of fairy slumber. In life
they will not know such peace again,
such absolute rest. They are swallowed whole:
feathers tucked in stillness, hearts like a coal
become unburnable in this world.
I am suspendedin my error's ether: what business did I have
trying to spin my own thread?
This is what is meant by fate.
2. Her Rest
At night: the snow. Always this unvarying
deepening. No sound, no wind, no life:
I am not yet dead. Nor sleeping.
Ask for a sign you will not get one.
Ask for time the bottom drops out
and steadily unravels, an uncontrollable
white thread unspinning the winding-sheet.
In my cedar chest the folded gowns
turn over and sigh to each other,
lost in dreams of breezes belonging to spring evenings.
Once I could move where now it is all mind,
all solitude. Nights like this it seems impossible he could make
a difference. Even the steps have surrendered to be stone:
There is a kind of vacancy too immense to ever melt.
3. Prisoner of the Golden Cage
Now, in this blue room, we will give ourself
up, let the long siege go, like a fist
opening to find the crushed bug flown.
Come cousin, it is the hour of surrender:
let us not say it is not so. Snow
is falling on the mosque, is falling
on the gold dome. I remember
lessons we received at the hands of the Master
who pinned butterflies to the enormous page
and turned it. Once there was something here,
but that was a long time ago, another world.
Please don't be angry: the sea is singing
me to sleep, the water pouring its green
poison into my ear: earth ends, earth ends.
Winner of the 2007 Kathryn A. Morton Prize in Poetry
"Stanley Kunitz once noted that a first book of poetry is often an act of 'creating the myth of oneself.' Beasts for the Chase is, in part, such an act-imagine if Hart Crane had written fairy tales-and yet Monica Ferrell embraces the thorny contradictions inherent in such a project. Within the space of one poem ('At The White Quay') we find a speaker who declares 'For I am so vast, my mouth / Encompasses you as the universe / Takes a star,' as well as 'I could not weep / But turned back to the tinker shop / Where I was welding together a terrible robot.' The mythmaking in these poems is fierce and wildly original-this is a thrilling new poetic voice."
"Monica Ferrell's poems obliterate the false distinction between thought and feeling, between reflection and passionate lyricism. They draw us into a profound and lavish interior world where what is experienced and what is thought about what is experienced are both transfigured by a mastery of the expressive power of language that is as precise as it is ecstatic."