Thinking about fall

“One should not talk to a skilled hunter about what is forbidden by the Buddha” -Hsiang-yen


A gray fox, female, nine pounds three ounces.
39 5/8″ long with tail.
Peeling skin back (Kai
reminded us to chant the Shingyo first)
cold pelt. crinkle; and musky smell
mixed with dead-body odor starting.

Stomach content: a whole ground squirrel well chewed
plus one lizard foot
and somewhere from inside the ground squirrel a bit of aluminum foil.

The secret.
and the secret hidden deep in that.

– Gary Snyder

3 thoughts on “Thinking about fall

  1. True story: I had a copy of some Snyder anthology with that in it. He was coming to Albuquerque to sign books in a sadly long- gone bookstore (the owner, now also gone, had Russ Chatham oils of the South Coast that he picked up out of Chathams’s trash when Russ left California for Montana.)

    I brought it up to Gary opened to that poem(he is a merry LITTLE guy), and said: “Do you still stand by that quote?” He said “I’ll sign my name”– and did, on the page.

    I later gave it to (writer) Tom McIntyre for a wedding present.

  2. Second thought: isn’t that quote used in front of still another poem, where “Drum” (Hadley?) shoots a curlew on a Baja beach and they eat it? While the poem you print is called “The Dead By the Side of the Road”? Haven’t had time to check all my Snyder, a large part of which is on a high shelf.

  3. In the collection I have (Turtle Island), they are 3 seperate poems – The Hudsonian Curlew, The Dead by the Side of the Road. and “One Should Not Talk…”.

    The Hudsonian Curlew

    The down
    i pluck from the
    neck of the curlew
    eddies and whirls at my knees
    in the twilight wind
    from sea.
    kneeling in sand


    The Dead by the Side of the Road

    I never saw a Ringtail til I found one in the road:
    case-skinned it with the toenails
    footpads, nose, and whiskers on;
    it soaks in salt and water
    sulphuric acid pickle;

    she will be a pouch for magic tools.

    Turtle Island is in my hand because our summer reading book was Pollan’s In Defense of Food and I’ve been asked to lead a discussion on “Hunting, Food and Buddhism”. The Hudsonian Curlew is definitely going to be read and I was thinking about The Dead…, too – also considering The Way West, Underground (circumpolar bear culture for any readers not familiar with the poem) just because I love it.

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