Skip to main content

Hannah Rodabaugh : Three poems


Greater Short-tailed Bat, 1965

There is only one photograph of you that we
Know of in existence—           it's 1965—           grimy—a biologist
Holds you—           your wings distorted behind you—           a kill of
Stamina folded out of you—           that you
Lived as bats did
Before that moment—             where in the
Glare of the camera flash—           you are
Weakened—             that it drained you of any life you
Knew up until that moment—
Where you look delicate and broken—
Already extinct.


I Need You to Build a Tomb for 3.5 Billion Passenger Pigeons

When we visit a grave,
We visit the absence of a person
That is heavily ritualized
Through our cultural funerary rites.

But who do we visit
In the deaths of animals?—
No tomb or fixed location
To nail our grief.

Their bodies are weeping
Putrid rot back into dirt
With no funeral to commemorate
Their absences.

Sure—plenty of us
Die unregarded too—
Plague deaths—ossuary—
But extinction? That            matters.

That deserves obelisk
As city pedestrian fiscal responsibility
Like for local hero
Or money-crusted magistrate.

Can't we have
A place to go to
To mourn our dead?
Our                 real dead.
The lives that              need
To be remembered.


Priorities | Memento Mori[1]

What can I
say to
apologize for my failings?

What spider or gnat do
I kill
now as nuisance

that will be
tomorrow's passenger
pigeon or Carolina parakeet?[2]

They were so numerous that
they didn't
matter to me—

that I didn't learn their
names
or take pictures.

They were not other
enough
until extinguished.

It took extinction to
make
them other to us.

How no
photos exist
of the Carolina parakeet except

two:
one of
a bird named Doodles perching

next to a man's
face, and
one which is clearly doctored.

Like what were people
doing
with cameras in

the eighteen hundreds
besides
not taking pictures of

green parakeets in
the eastern half
of the country by the millions?

Here is my mother's
death photo—
she was a lovely corpse.

You are
her genetic inheritor—she
lives in you.

A question of how
we determine if our priorities
are skewed or not.

Should you
have taken pictures
of what you know

or what you know
to
have value?

Is there even
a
difference?

Everyone's relatives
played out in parakeets at
some point

only no one
cares about their
bodies.

Everyone  really into
Victorian fad
of taking

photos of bodies at funerals
while we
struggle to conceive of

the landscape those
bodies lived in
once.

I look at the doctored
picture
of the parakeet

posed on dead branches
and I
think it looks flat—

made
out of paper—
how can it

have been
bright green
yellow—vermillion?

How can life have existed
in what we
cannot mention?

On our
chairs around the
dinner table,

Would you like
to see a photo of our dead
daughter posed in this

rocking chair
surrounded by
her sisters?

Meanwhile
millions of parakeets
are being extinguished

like a good-bye game
we
play with school children.

What gets to
be remembered has to do
with politics.

We do not remember
what we ourselves
extinguish.



Hannah Rodabaugh: I have an MA from Miami University and an MFA from Naropa University. My work has been published or is forthcoming in Berkeley Poetry Review, ROAR Magazine, Horse Less Review, Written River, Rat's Ass Review, Nerve Lantern, Antinarrative, & HOOT. I have a chapbook of poems out from Dancing Girl Press & another chapbook forthcoming from Another New Calligraphy. I have poetry in Flim Forum Press’ anthology A Sing Economy and Nerve Lantern's Yoko Ono: A Tribute to Yoko Ono, a collection of writing in response to Yoko Ono's performance art. I've received grants from the Idaho Commission on the Arts and the Alexa Rose Foundation, and I am the 2017 Artist in Residence for Craters of the Moon National Monument. (I am also on Twitter and have a blog/website.) 





[1] Post-mortem photography—or taking photos of the dead often posed in lifelike positions—became common during the 19th century.
[2] A now extinct species of brightly-colored parrot that was indigenous from North Carolina to Florida.

Popular posts from this blog

submissions :: where is the river

Up to six poems in a single .doc file with author biography and photo to kieferjdlogan@gmail.com All rights revert to the author/s upon publication.

about :: where is the river

where is the river :: a poetry experiment is a bi-monthly poetry journal open to a variety of aesthetics, forms and experiences, with a preference towards showcasing work by emerging writers. There is no single path, nor any single way. Founded in September 2017. Edited by Kiefer JD Logan.

J.D. Nelson :: Four poems

  bible hawk rose mike white seas   this is the lang of the proper saint   we left the show to see the boats   when one thing becomes the other why I can’t sleep in the shower?   this is the back of the wallet where the money turns red     right now with the animated piggy just like a clock monster up at the hour of monstering I’m talking about the friendly sesame street monsters, not scary monsters   aha! the smart horse was named to the president’s table for the third straight year   earth is in hiding that’s what it’s doing way out here in the milky way   gumby up           gully gulch would you like a diet coke to smoke?   in the sea tree a clean heaven of the snowy earth that miracle jones to summon a carlson   sleeping lion was a calm red of the wolf better than biff              that common ultra saturn for the charge of monsters be the cold one in the egg   the king of the winter snows walking the dream dog in sears       to shape the f