Below the Walls

All day I dream about exotic catapults
And levers.

My cousin told me about the trebuchet.
It’s a French catapult, I guess,
With a rope that whips and snaps
Like a knife breaking.

I dream that I will place
Everything in its leathery nest,
Look for a moment into the hills,
And pull the handle.

Sometimes, I’ll watch my brother’s
Conquered old sedan
As it soars into the dirt.

I watch my books flutter
Like panicking birds.

Most precious of all
Are those things which restrained us
Within a realm of fragility.
Glassware, plates, old clocks,
Expensive watches, computers.
As they fly I feel a pang
Of addiction releasing,
Followed by an unsatisfactory crunch.


One response to “

  1. For me, the poem hinges on a single word, “unsatisfactory.” It is the focal point of the poem, an unexpected twist at the end. Up to the last line, we see the narrator’s pleasure in freeing himself of his possessions and material attachments. But with “unsatisfactory,” we are left without the successful conclusion, and instead we stuck with questions. Is the narrator ultimately stuck with his material addiction? The release of these items that tie us down appear to satisfy the narrator, but it’s a temporary and hollow removal. To me, the deeper significance of “unsatisfactory” reveals the uselessness of fitfully removing possessions from one’s life. As if the objects themselves are the problem! The problem is in the attitude of the narrator to the objects. Whether these possessions are present or not is not the freeing mechanism. The true catapult is not worrying about them at all. I am interested in the way in how those things restrain us “Within a realm of fragility.” In the sixth stanza, and especially the beginning of it, objects appear to be volitional, exerting a will upon the narrator — which may be the clearest sign that the agency in the poem does not lie with the narrator, but rather the objects that he is catapulting. An interesting juxtaposition.

    Always a fan of learning new words in poems. The trebuchet, eh? I suppose this brings us back to the WordPress koan on categories and tags.

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