Literary Hook: Found poem of a wounded eagle perfect for post-9/11

A “green” groundswell and grassroots movement is afoot locally in the aftermath of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. Many organizations and individuals are concerned enough about global warming to want to act—and act quickly.

At the same time, with the Democrats in a somewhat more powerful position in Washington, a theme in our country seems to be “Enough is enough.”

Early this January, I wrote that this column would be open to “green” poems, short stories, and essays, as well as seasonal writings. While I wait for others to submit, I have been going through my own work and have found timely pieces.

For a number of us who lived through the Vietnam War, “enough was enough” a long time ago!

Here is a “found poem” I wrote in February 2002. A found poem happens when you stumble across something in real life that is so potently symbolic of something else, usually something much larger, that you just have to write it. You have to follow the metaphor where it leads.

This poem is set locally and really did happen. The idea of a wounded eagle seemed so appropriate for the country after 9/11. What struck me hardest about this wounded eagle is that it had lost much of its vision. That really was something to ponder, and moved the poem forward.

An Eagle Poem Found, February 2002

There he was, an old eagle, encaged

That day at the forest preserve.

A wounded eagle, taken in by park rangers,

To live the rest of his life by the mercy

Of kind attendants who feed him

Small, furry road kill still fresh enough to eat.

As I approached softly on the light snow,

The eagle let out high, staccato cries,

Like a round of gunfire, then turned my way.

I saw his missing eye, half of his face caved in—

The work of humans, I am told.

If at this moment my own country were not

Shouting its own war cries, wrapping its talons

Around lesser prey, I would have thought only this:

Poor Eagle, who will not fly again,

Who will not resume your Eagle ways,

O’ formidable bird of prey, vulture king

Once soaring over the river,

No silver-brown fresh fish will glint

From your beak. No fish will be carried to your nest

Where your gossamer-tufted fledgling waits.From the Feb. 21-27, 2007, issue

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