Gibson Fay-LeBlanc


                   Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.  –Matthew 23:24.


Sudden as the swoop of a swallow that lifts

from grass at once: it comes,

flash of white under-feathers in sun. 

You have to follow its path,

watch the landing and scribble down

the thumping in your throat.


Later, you find where swallow began:

its tiny muscles of flight

that link in our mouths to Philomel,

Puffer fish, blood of Christ—

not the sugar-fed metaphor

you sip from a goblet, no,


metal and salt, tasted from the brow. 

Fact is you swallow the lure,

hook and cackle—projected self,

protected— and learn your part

so well words rise from the low gullet

before you can wish them off.


A single tire bobs in a river

near where it disappears

under limestone, swallowed by earth;

Job stands next to a pit

he can’t see the bottom of.  He tried

to force the camel down:


fur, femur, and teeth.  And all the drunks

in your family—they thought

swallowing seven mugs each night

a way to forget what came next;

they forgot it all enters the blood:

blue eyes, two webbed toes. 


Then there is the Black Swallower

prowling for fish as big

as itself, which it downs by opening

a hinge and crawling along

the prey with teeth.  It does the thing

that stretches ribs to their splitting.