A Collection of Visions
by Drew Nathaniel Keane
Is that a deer?
Is that a deer upon the hill? I froze
And watched her grazing while a little fawn,
Like gods around the Godhead circling on,
Around her danced—A vision of the Rose
That round the seat of Heaven ever grows
(Espied by Dante and Divine St. John
On Patmos as God’s Day began to dawn).
So danc’d the happy fawn, until the foes
Of peace, these yapping dogs, came bounding in,
And doe and fawn and vision sped away.
A trumpet blaring yanked me back to earth,
Where I stood frozen in a cross-walk—men
Assured their just revenge for my delay—
I mouthed, “I’m sorry,” then, for what it’s worth.
Within a dream, three ghosts appeared to me–
Dante, Sartre, and Milton. I asked the three:
“Where is the gate on which these words appear:
‘Abandon hope all ye who enter here.’?
Is hell the place our enemies will go?
Or, is it other people? Do you know?
Or, worst of all, is hell within the mind–
The place from which no refuge I can find?”
They looked, they turned, and into shadows fled;
I woke to found myself yet safe within my bed.
The crickets and the kine.
A farmer sat upon his porch along
With his two sons. As evening fell the sound
Of crickets and their endless chirping grew.
Those insects of the hour, though few, can buzz
With such ferocity that even thought
Is caught within their powerful control.
Tonight their songs of discontent arose
As one united voice, a restless force,
Commanding both the farmer and his sons.
The chirping burrowed in their brains this one
Kill the kine; kill the kine!
According to the ancient custom, so
Before the sun our farmer rose to work.
He said a prayer for daily bread and then
Without a second thought continued to
The duties of the day. No more was heard
Hypnotic chirping from the pastureland;
Morning left no memory of the demon
Voice obeyed the night before. Terror robbed
His vital air when he beheld the scene:
The bleeding cattle on a thousand hills!
Not since Ulysses’ sailors sacrificed
The Sun-God’s herd has such a sight been seen.
Returning to the farmhouse where his two
Boys met him for their breakfast meal, their dad
Was mumbling all his tortured mind could think:
No milk to drink, my boys, no milk to drink.
Strolling past St. Anne’s.
Strolling past St. Anne’s, I heard a sudden
Crack of stone ‘gainst stone and whoops of laughter
From little ones, whose mothers in the church,
Sorted through old coats and clothes collected
For Somali refugees. Mothers, with
Their scarves drawn ‘cross their faces, ey’d the piles
Of other people’s leftovers to find
Their children’s sizes and to search for holes.
I passed the boys outside, the boys with stones
And stains of pizza sauce around their lips.
And then I turned to see what target met
Their practice. I turned and met Our Lady’s
Stony eyes just as another pellet
Was hurled towards her, shattering her hand.
There’s no Such thing as monsters.
“There’s no such thing as monsters.” So our parents said:
Then kissed with lying lips, and tucked us into bed.
I’ve read somewhere our enmity with them—
With monsters—came just six short hours behind
Our first, naive, but bright and happy, smile
Met the approving smile of the goddesses—
Then young, though beautiful and awful still—
The smile of Nature and the Blue-Eyed Maid.
Yet six hours later they seemed old and dark
And warned us: “Watch for dragons everywhere.”
The first, a dress of thorns and thistles donned;
The second, made to wander, flies disguised,
To urge the fight or pull the hero’s hair.
Once—nearer to the time when shadows fell
Upon our bright and solid world—we had
A better time remembering the way
Things were and what was real. But now we say,
“There’s no such thing as dragons” to ourselves,
And curl-up closely to the scaly things.
Drew Nathaniel Keane is a lecturer in the Department of Writing & Linguistics at Georgia Southern University