Weekly Feature: Poetry at The Arts Fuse

Welcome to “Poetry at The Arts Fuse.” A new poem every Thursday.


saw whet


the name comes from the similarity between this small owl’s call,
and the sound of a saw blade being sharpened


you could barely hear it

        and when you looked over

        your shoulder to the roof

       tracking the feathery sound

        you saw first a small head

       and banded body then wings

        that flared and you could

        almost see it say to itself

        landing here was a mid-ruffle

        mistake and surprise

        while you — the old inveterate

         meaning-maker — are already

         thinking here is the sound

          death when it comes will make

         the sigh of someone who has

           arrived at your door after

          traveling all night and is glad

            you are at home and wants

           to shake off the dust and get

             a good look at you to be sure

            you’re the one it has come for

              or is this palaver about dying

             only the easy eerie of a poem

               ripe with ghosts and memories,

              maybe this visitor is like a word

                that breaks the surface of mind,

               and has come to name the mix

                of contraries in every feeling,

               perhaps too it is wondering how

                  it came to take up residence

                in you, and is letting you know that

                  that whatever else it might

                mean this is how the next poem

                will begin, with the feather-breath

                of a life small, secretive, and near


Fred Marchant is the author of five books of poetry, the most recent of which, Said Not Said, was published by Graywolf Press and named an Honored Book by the Massachusetts Book Awards. His earlier collections include Full Moon Boat, The Looking House, and Tipping Point, winner of the Washington Prize from The Word Works. Marchant is also the editor of Another World Instead, a selection of early poems by William Stafford. He is also the co-editor with Jennifer Barber and Jessica Greenbaum of Tree Lines, an anthology of contemporary American poems about trees and forests. His work has appeared in a numerous other anthologies, most recently in Braving the Body.


Note: Hey poets! We seek submissions of excellent poetry from across the length and breadth of contemporary poetics. See submission guidelines here. The arbiter of the feature is the magazine’s poetry editor, John Mulrooney.

— Arts Fuse editor Bill Marx

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