Return of the Fly

A Poem by Nels Hanson

The police inspector in white trench coat
fires his revolver at the odd shadow
stumbling up the hill of oaks and broken

stones, looming large now as moonlight
shows a man’s body with bulbous head,
hands and one foot a fly’s sharp claws . . .

What could be worse? Perhaps the President
visits the lab, sits for a photo in the glass
case while the secret service agent leans

a second against the wall, by accident
throws the switch as a common bluebottle
buzzes into the reintegration chamber.

Rushed to the White House, home again
in the West Wing, the Chief Executive
runs down a maze of halls from the Oval

Office, each huge eye a thousand eyes
each searching for a mirror, to comb
the few hairs grown from oily bulbs.

Far away, searching the green pasture,
a fly with a tiny human face screams
as out of habit its body descends to eat.

Nels Hanson grew up on a small farm in the San Joaquin Valley of California and has worked as a farmer, teacher and contract writer/editor. His fiction received the San Francisco Foundation’s James D. Phelan Award and Pushcart nominations in 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016. His poems received a 2014 Pushcart nomination, Sharkpack Review’s 2014 Prospero Prize, and 2015 and 2016 Best of the Net nominations.

One thought on “Return of the Fly

  1. This appeals to me because it reminds me of James Tate’s poem, “Rape In The Engineering Building,” from his 1970 book The oblivion Ha-Ha. Also, I like the movie The Fly & Cronenberg’s sensibility especially. It fails for me in terms of the form and some of the syntactical ambiguity….the shadow that looms large…I wonder where the shadow looms, between the Creature and the policeman shooting? If the light source is behind the creature, is it night? The moon, streetlight? I want to see the scene more confidently, but I can’t. And it’s not clear to me if that’s intentional or not. And the description of the hands seems forced, contrived. I can intellectually “get it” (small hands! insectoid!) but it’s hard to imagine shadow of fly’s claws…I mean, most insects have the bristly “chitin” that looks like hairs, or barbs, but do they have claws? The broken stones is a nice poetic touch, but the bulbous head seems not to do much besides set up the bulbs of the end, which we all have. Hmm. The shadow suggests expressionism, like Nosferatu’s long bony feral claws, but the lack of really being able to languish in the horror and disgust–like Cronenberg does, fetishizing the details and textures and colors–leaves me feeling like I could had so much more

    Full disclosure, I voted for Trump.

    Here’s an interesting Rip on The President, by a monied St. Louis Jew poet (whom I love!), Fred Seidel. “Trump For President”:

    A perfect week for digging up the block.
    If you care, you repair
    The infrastructure or it will despair.
    Bear with the noise! We aren’t made of air.
    Tyrannosaurus rex on tires, gorging horribly,
    Fucks the street in bursts and jerks.
    The operator riding it bucks and charges forward
    And resumes his hippopotamus mouthfuls.

    The scene’s a slaughterhouse
    With dead meat screaming.
    Maybe the concrete is fully conscious?
    Major surgery without anesthesia.
    You’ll need earplugs and a hard hat
    While this berserk year runs amok.
    We actually need to talk.
    What now? Now what?

    We are poor little lambs who have lost our way.
    We are little black sheep who have gone astray.
    O say can you see what we’re about to be?
    What am I, chopped liver?
    O say can you see
    We’re about to be
    The Nuremberg Rally
    In an alley?

    I text the sky – hi, sky! –
    O infinite and blue!
    In a green pasture up in the blue sky a cow chews her heavenly cud,
    A garland of orchids around her neck.
    Cow-eyed Hera – goddess! – but not goodness –
    Not calm, patient, selfless abundance –
    Not Hindu! Not moo-cow moo!
    But, Donald darling, unmistakeably you.


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