This is a rather unkind or unpleasant poem I wrote about two rather unpleasant people, which I suppose is allowed.

A Fable

Weasel and the Ponce were having a confab
under the chinaberry tree,
in the shade of the dusty old tree –
pious Weasel, indefatigable Ponce.

Abroad in the land were pickings to be had,
marks beyond measure,
fat aplenty for tooth and hand. Will and cunning
are the clean, bright edges

of a creature in the wild, of a vigorous man,
so that goodness finds sustenance,
charity nurture, in quietude, in quietude within.
The nose will relate to you a world,

a world entire, from the merest trace of wind –
the topography of weakness,
gold in a river’s sand. And there they sniffed,
sniffed and with hooded eye conspired,

in the shadows thrown by the dusty old tree.
Trading knowledge, whetting tools,
they made ready for their necessary enterprise,
the fate nature bestowed. All the while

drinking in each other’s aspect: they found
uncommon pleasure there,
did Weasel and his friend, in the other’s smile and guise,
as a young girl in flattering light,

as a darling young girl by her reflection might –
the two of them, lovely beyond compare
in the shade of the chinaberry tree.
Groomed, laved with blandishment,

almost gilded in the hours afternoon turns to evening
and evening, stealthily, to night,
how would they have noticed the rustle in the thicket,
felt the heat of its burning eyes?

from Red Sauce, Whiskey, and Snow (Noonday Press, 1995), copyright © 1995 by August Kleinzahler, used by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC.

The free tracks you can enjoy in the Poetry Archive are a selection of a poet’s work. Our catalogue store includes many more recordings which you can download to your device.