Wild Beasts

by Bernard Henrie
The Writer's Block
Second Place, September 2017
Judged by Tim Mayo


Rain cleans the casino windows
bright as a yellow tiger. The night
quiet as a purse thief.

A girl lights a Gauloise, she walks
the boulevard naked under a raincoat
and a the wide brim of an ostrich hat.

The liturgical night comes for me.
Streetlights hum under their breath.
Thinning streets, empty, alabaster air.

Tomorrow I’ll clear out, take that job
with the Tribune, a weather report
says I’ve seen the last of you.


Perhaps because I had a high school friend who worked for The Herald Tribune in Paris, this poem resonates a little more for me than it might for others. Nonetheless, the economy of words sharpens each image the poet presents in each stanza, and gives the turn of the last stanza an almost blues-like quality. The poet begins the first image in the poem with a background of chance by making the windows “casino windows.” Along with the chances at the end of the poem that the weather report might be as wrong as it might be right leaves us with the possibility that the speaker’s decision and it’s consequences are never surer than chance itself. This poem is a great example of the economy of language and how that economy of language can heighten the experience of the poem. --Tim Mayo

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