Ovid’s List of Hounds

scrolls downward in a rainlike trance,
muscled names rippling across the plain page.
The plains: where they lost pursuit, where
a once-skilled master steered their rage
(boarlike their strength, keen to outrun wolves,
and on and on) — now he’s an antlered wraith
praying for even a fleck of recollection.
My river runs northeast into great Erie
and I pray for it nightly — chemical penance
of mercury and Prozac sickening it
for some ageless, misunderstood trespass.
Like every steadfast being I’ve taken
for fact, for thing, the Maumee River
may well have once been a hound —
and the lazy path it now runs was once
the path it ran, spore of a she-bear
blossoming like an ember in its nostrils.
Rain’s thick incantation wounds it —
a flock of minnows shivers awake as night
slopes in: an arrow glancing off a bell
and who can say where the whole mess
will land: a freak’s corpse, a torrent of teeth.

F. Daniel Rzicznek’s second collection of poems, Divination Machine, will be published in 2009. He teaches English composition at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.