The National Catholic Review
Tryfon Tolides
The mouse doesn’t really bother anyone. It doesn’t
go around holding up banks or shooting people
in the face or locking them up in dank jail cells
and sticking electric prods to their genitals. It doesn’t
build jet fighters and bomb our cities in the name
of peace in the middle of the night while we are sleeping.
It doesn’t plant toy mines to blow our children’s arms off.
All the mouse wants is to share with us some shelter,
food, even the warmth of its nervous body. Yet we plug up
the cupboards so it can’t eat, and we chase it around
the living room with a broom and remove all the chairs
till it has nowhere to hide; then we club it to death
as it squeals. Or we set up traps with something it likes
to lure it into strangulation and burst its eyes out
of its head. And against what? A few light scratchings
heard in the ceiling once in a while keeping us company
at night? Two or three crumbs of bread taken from
the kitchen floor? And after the mouse, there are the ants
to be poisoned, the bees to be gassed and burned.
Later, the dandelions to be choked by spraying. And after
that, after that, there must be something after that.

Tryfon Tolides is working toward an M.F.A. in creative writing at Syracuse University and is completing his first book, An Almost Pure Empty Walking.

Comments

Ronnie Rosenberg | 6/6/2004 - 12:12am
Thank you so much for awarding the 2004 Foley Poetry Award to Tryfon Tolides for his well-crafted poem. I've read it and re-read it a hundred times, rocked by the image of animals being wantonly destroyed because they inconvenience us. I witness this regularly as an animal shelter volunteer. People relinquish dogs because they bark and cats because they scratch on the furniture. There is no tolerance for the "other", no meeting the creatures halfway. We must learn to live in peace with ourselves, with one another, and with God.

Mary O’Kelly Hughes | 2/9/2007 - 3:41pm
I was so looking forward to your selection of the 2004 Foley Poetry Award winner (6/7). Disappointed does not even begin to state how I feel. How can you select a piece for a poetry contest that does not fit the criterion of a poem or poetry?

According to Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10th edition:

poem—a composition in verse;

verse—a line of metrical writing;

metrical—relating to, or composed in meter;

meter—systematically arranged and measured rhythm in verse;

poetry—metrical writing, verse.

The selection made by the editors of America may be creative writing of a thought, but is it poetry?

Ronnie Rosenberg | 6/6/2004 - 12:12am
Thank you so much for awarding the 2004 Foley Poetry Award to Tryfon Tolides for his well-crafted poem. I've read it and re-read it a hundred times, rocked by the image of animals being wantonly destroyed because they inconvenience us. I witness this regularly as an animal shelter volunteer. People relinquish dogs because they bark and cats because they scratch on the furniture. There is no tolerance for the "other", no meeting the creatures halfway. We must learn to live in peace with ourselves, with one another, and with God.

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