The Maynard
Spring 2014

Richard Kelly Kemick

An Interview with a Caribou

What do the dead sing to the dead
when they’ve got buckshot like a Beach Boy’s song
stuck in their heads? God only knows I get around,
but wouldn’t it be nice if the mosquitoes
in your ear didn’t sound like Barbara Ann—
that California girl with a stutter?
It’s hard to be heard in a herd
but you won’t hear me falling in a forest
when each October I starve for love,
but eating then is like lotioning sunscreen
during a shark attack, just because it’s important
doesn't mean you should be doing it.
If you’re in a rut in the rut that’s an entire year
you’ve fucked up with nothing to rub
but your antlers on trunks and wooden-women
make splintered lovers. I don’t mean to brag, but
I only need one hand to count the times
I’ve confused birch trees with seagulls, but colour me blindly
offended because it wasn’t until 1999
Crayola discontinued “Indian Red” and we all know
“Peach” is simply a synonym for skin.
What does a musician call a dropped gherkin? A pickle-low.
What did the oak give when it ran for office? A stump speech.
And I forget the set-up to the third but the punchline’s,
Those two nuns, father, don’t speak latin. Now,
I’ve never had a need for dead language,
but even I am a bit of a necrophile when I come
to etymology. Shouldn’t oil donkeys be named
after wolves since you can always trust a meat-eater
to never make a grass-roots movement? Sure,
it’s a well if it ends well but bait your breath
with earthworms brave Percy because
you’re like that Hairy Woodpecker on a wild-goose,
what’s dumb is dumb and there’s no two ways to skin a catastrophe.
That’s why nobody reads Paradise Regained.
If you want tragedy then give me a clown skull,
but if you want elbow-room then cut yourself off
at the humerus because you don’t know funny
until you’ve seen a forest of seagulls burn like cigarettes. You’ve gotta
keep an open mine shaft light on for me, baby,
while you’re in hot water in your tub, sudsy skin
as soft and chaste as Georgia-grown fruit.
Because I think I’m here for a while, behind the grizzly cage
at the Calgary Zoo, their bare eyes pacing, bearing
the heaviness of the lives they’ll no longer take.