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Chris Tonelli

An Actual Hawk

after reading Sampson Starkweather’s “The Hawk”


I’ve filled my cubicle w/ postcards of paintings.

Before I read Sam’s poem, I just assumed

it was because I was an art lover, that I was

artsy (see: poems, etc.). I was wrong. It turns out

that I have some innate desire or need or whatever

to look out the window even when there is

no window. Maybe especially when there

is no window. Out this window, I see two pink fish

dead on a white cloth, carefully placed on the sand

(my cube overlooks the sea). Out another, I see

a wedding taking place. Over here, a nude woman

toweling off in a parlor chair. A Boston terrier

posing for a portrait, an angel visiting a penitent maid,

a train pulling into a covered station

guffing clouds of smoke. This doesn’t make me

like my job any better. Maybe it would if they were

actual windows and I could see an actual hawk.



The Room In The Elephant


Right now, I’m supposed to be editing a section

of a science chapter about parasitism.

Which is funny, because just last night, I went to a lecture

on how ideas can cause this same kind of harm

in us. Watch an ant, the speaker said. Notice if it climbs

to the highest point in the field. Flick it off.

Does it race right back up? Then it most likely

has a parasite that can only complete its life cycle

in the belly of a cow. So it drives the ant

(like an SUV, he said) straight to the top of a blade

of grass, increasing its chances of being eaten

by a cow. Point being that organisms who

harm themselves are typically infested.

He explained that toxic, or parasitic, religions

act similarly. People are flying planes

through the tallest blades of grass, because they too

are infested. What small thing is piloting them

away from their genetic fitness? Or maybe

they have a whole country inside. Our country.

I wonder what’s inside of me, not doing

a damn thing. Here I am, at work, not wanting to be.

The speaker mentioned that susceptibility

to hypnosis used to be selected for, since it

guaranteed you health insurance. I wonder if this

still holds true. Today is one of those days

when ideas seem to unravel themselves

right out of existence. Justin just emailed me an article

that says the newly found Gospel of Judas

may reveal that Jesus told Judas to betray him.

What to believe. I wanted to believe that philosopher

last night—I was so ready to deconvert.

Maybe I believe that poems are mutualists

and should drive us to the highest point of ourselves.

But instead of perishing in the belly of infinity,

we would thrive. Here. Now you’ve got one.

I hope you start a scourge.

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