Monday, November 07, 2005

Twelve Dollar Bow and Arrow

He only just thought of it, this
young boy, pants stained with
dirt and grass, a stick caught in
his tousled hair, his twelve
dollar bow and arrow clutched
tightly as a religious icon against
his hip,

but he has lost his way, and doesn’t
know his north from his west, and
twilight is leaping across the sky like
escaped panthers from the zoo, after
him, the rabbit of their attention,

and the way back doesn’t look like
the way coming to this point, and
he never counted the number of times he
bore right and bore left, or if the
moss grew on only one side of the
big trees with their knotty bark,

and he knows that there is no one
to hear him call out, for he has
walked back from the woods
behind the graveyard where
men from the civil war were put
to rest, and the roads don’t go
this way, not since the logging
trails grew in when his own
father was a boy,

and a game bird flushes out from a
thicket as a small sound escapes him
seeming like thunder in the quiet of
the wood, his heart responding in kind,
his feet slipping as he leaps back and
topples to the soggy earth,
and he looks up at the moon, the
silvery round eye above him, feeling
no mercy at all, feeling that this
being lost has only begun, and will
stretch out forever like rivers below
the earth and the highways of the
hidden folk his grandma told him

and he holds his bow in sweaty
hands, this boy, and the world
swells up so huge and awful
above him that his shoulders
shake underneath his shirt,
but he blinks at the tears and
picks a direction, because
walking is a little less scary than
lying still.


drthunder said...

Thanks for another gift. Coming to you Blog is a rewarding adventure.

Stranger Ken said...

And that's exactly how it has to be, isn't it? We either get up and move on or we don't, the choice is ours.

Aside from the philosophy, though, this poem catches the sense that boys have, or used to have in my day anyway, of the need to be adventurous as a way of learning to recognize and deal with fear.

I found two things especially interesting: that you set the boy against a backdrop of nature and not an urban landscape and that you provided him with the kind of plaything that a boy might have had in the nineteen fifties. I'm a mite curious, in the politest possible way, as to what that might say about the poet!

Firehawk said...


Thanks. You're a peach.


Well, maybe it is strange for the modern day, but I think that kids lose out on the experiences of life when they can't go out into the woods, far enough away from everyone that they can feel like it's their world alone. If it's age you're wondering about...suffice it to say that I can barely remember the late seventies. I suppose I'm just a throwback.

Swiftboat said...


I realy like this one. Perhaps since I was a kid during the sixties and had quite a lot of freedom - enough to ocasionally get lost. I think a lot of kids these days are deprived from outdoor experiance. It's all social interaction, computer games, and with the upwordly mobile intense formal education. I often feel sad for kids - their whole life scripted: a play "date" here, special tutoring there, and an extended school day. Time for everything except just being a kid.

That's this old farts view anyway. I sometimes think I came up during the last good time.

Mushster said...

Yeah, those freedoms kids used to have just aren't there anymore. This really took me back. Not that I was a boy ~ and not that I grew up in the "old days" ahem lol ;)

Bill said...

I've got to tell you, I was that boy, on more than one occassion... and moving is definitely less scary that standing dtill... it's as if the motion alone is enough to take your mind off the trouble you're in!

You've again captured a 'universal' moment I think, that first "I'm really lost" moment... and lost could be geographically, or spiritually... it really doesn't matter.

Nice piece.

Firehawk said...


The freedom we had growing up has mostly evaporated from children's lives now. There's no more "go out and play," it seems. No more afternoons running around with friends until dinner time. No more running BB gun battles in the woods. No more dangerous toys you might put out an eye or lose a finger playing with. What's the fun in being a kid, if not the possibility of a little danger? I think we do our kids a disservice by taking that away.


I got to start splitting firewood when I was seven. By eight or nine, I'd wrangled ducks, chickens, pigs...I learned how to swing a hammer and push a wheelbarrow full of bricks. Some of that involved swollen thumbs and sore muscles. Those were just chores! I feel bad for kids that don't get to pick up these experiences.


If you haven't turned all the way around and thought, "Oh, crap, I have no idea where I am," then you haven't really lived. The Maine woods are so easy to lose yourself in, since most of them are second growth, choked with thickets and deadfalls. You can be a hundred yards from a road, yet you're totally in your own world. I can't imagine not having that experience.

Thanks, everyone, for dropping by.

Stranger Ken said...

Throwback? Cutting edge, I think. I can remember the Seventies, it's the Fifties I have trouble with!

MB said...

I really like this one. You've evoked the feeling of lostness well, and how the boy got to that moment, and the necessary way out.

All this talk of the poem/poet being a throwback, though. My child still wants a bow and arrow. Some things don't change.

Firehawk said...


Thanks for the comment. I almost didn't find it, but decided to scroll down a bit, just to check. I think the allure of a bow and arrow is eternal. Something about the transfiguration from potential energy to kinetic, those simple machines far more graceful than anything that requires electricity and wires.

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