Wednesday Oct 18

Daniel Tobin is the author of four books of poems, Where the World is Made, Double Life, The Narrows, and Second Things. His fifth collection, Belated Heavens, is forthcoming from Four Way Books in 2010. Among his awards are "The Discovery/The Nation Award," The Robert Penn Warren Award, the Robert Frost Fellowship, the Katherine Bakeless Nason Prize, and creative writing fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. He is Chair of the Writing, Literature, and Publishing Department at Emerson College in Boston.
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The Bone Flute
           
             Hohle Fels, Ach Valley, Southern Germany
 
 
Reedless, rimless,
this woodwind owes
its timbre to a wingspan,
its quiet to millennia
played like tennons
for the planet’s long riff.
the man who notched
this V to a mouth hole,
drilled these zeros for keys,
did so for the consort,
the ones who huddle
out of phase amidst
the flint and sediment
of their low-hung cave
astride the Danube’s
bedded plains: from Ach
to Bach the one amplitude,
single envelope of sound
on the human frequency.
So raise beers and bravos
to this primeval sesuin
in honor of the goddess
buxom and big-sexed
in the snug of the earth,
its stalactite tympani,
mammoth tusk bassoons,
its wind-chime spear points;
and to the unknown genius
of this lithic whistle
his breath primed and pitched
through the wing bone of a bird
that might, just as deftly,
with a beak fashioned by luck
or by a score more elegant,
have plucked his own bones clean.
 
 
Needle’s Eye
 
                        (For Willard Wigan, miniaturist)
 
No dither of souls
wishing through—
 
and the longhorn
on the pinhead,
 
the moon man
in his thin eclipse
 
have been secured
precisely with
 
the anchor chain
of a fly’s bristle.
 
So ply your scalpel,
its stropped eyelash
 
honed and brilliant,
to fashion Alice
 
from carpet thread,
Hatter and Hare,
 
their bright teacups
from flecks of gold
 
(even the wrinkles
along the tablecloth
 
like waves of waves
on a grain of sand).
 
You’ve engineered
your apartment house
 
for ants, its balconies,
their hats and shoes,
 
and the Queen’s coach
with horses reined
 
by spider strands
yet awaits your eye.
 
Let me request
the galaxy
 
in the hollow
of a human hair,
 
a universe 
in the season
 
of a blink.
To which you say
 
Lean back,
breathe in,
 
carve only
between heartbeats.
 
I’ll make you
a baby in the womb.