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Life is a Gift by Rafael McDonnell
Winter 2006      


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A gunman shooting fox …

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In his last book, 101 Selected Poems (New York: Vantage Press, 2006), Jawdat Haydar includes this poem with a mention of Denton and his alma mater. It is reprinted with his permission.

A gunman shooting fox leaping behind a ridge of stone
And the birds sight speed dispersed into the clear
Like stones as if by a catapult hurled
Grouping wings dressing mountain heights gray
Still up singling threads gyrating round the breast of heaven
Sunstruck, reflected like the beads of a papal rosary
A necklace of lustrous spars designed
Boundary line in motion circling around
Our cedars in sky topping our land
Clapping feather eye winks nose down falling back
Dissolved vapor past jointure of water and sky
Gathering rain drops drifting racks
Reborn at the horizon whirling in speed
Fronting ernes in pursuit frenzied wild
Like bullets vanishing, smoke fire darkened flame
And I look at the fox a tail of dust behind.

Ah! What a panorama for a soul to pillow
Upon a dazzling sight beauty possessed
Michelangelo living perhaps this image could paint
On the ceiling of heaven a man gazing at a sculptured dream.

I would that Milton be living open lid to eye
This paradise found on these Lebanese shores
To forget the long film of the sable nights spent
And write anew his Paradise Lost
Messages from the east to the west
To look at the same sky and enjoy this beauty of the world.

Me, now, not one but two, a divided addition
My soul drifted with the wings away away
Leaving behind but water and sand
Away away with the birds fancy-free
Breaking through the eclipse of distance

Far across the ocean cotton blooming fields
Shaping stars like shredded shards of foam
Texas of the Alamo the citadel of the brave
My dreamland of youth and love bygone
Still a memory burning torch in my heart.

Ah! The birds the birds caving wings cracked away
And I was saddened much of the which as such
Being left alone a look behind a dream ahead
Floating on the twining current of my mind
Over Denton my old home and alma mater
I pulled down a breath gravity borne to the ground
Where long thought images clustered around
With a silent rhythm of speech in their eyes
Tears, tears, tears and tethered tongues
With them forever I longed to be to stay
But the Arabian flying carpet of the wind was ready
When I thought of the Lebanon far away
And the gunman shooting fox leaping behind a ridge of stone.


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