Originally published in Willow Springs 84

From the author

Notes on “Hawks”

“Hawks” was written after I actually spent a day acting in a music video in which I played a priest. (You can see it on YouTube here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWjfRYXz6S0). So, not a lot of premeditation was involved. But if there is a time when I feel absolutely unlike myself it’s when I’m acting in a video (I’ve, hilariously, acted in four). Anyway, forget the narrative offered up by the song the video was scripted to accompany, I somehow got in touch with the soul of this former member of an Alice Cooper tribute band, who it turned out was simply happy to have something expressive to do since he was in the process of grieving after a break-up. I will say I wrote “Hawks” in early 2019 when I was writing a series of “short fictions,” one per day in fact, for a period of about two weeks. So I wrote the first draft in probably about an hour, having had no idea, before I sat down, what was going to emerge. But I had been involved with the video production a day or two earlier. The details reported in the story are totally made up, by the way, though I do own a five pound cat. I just sat down and started to type. The whole WORLD of the story spilled onto the page, including the narrator’s voice and the various details. Otherwise, I enjoyed the opportunity to go all expressionistic and gothic with the imagery, perfect for communicating the protagonist’s emotional state and the sense of delight he took in being rescued by artifice totally steeped in the theatrics of the macabre. There was very little revision after the initial draft.


Music, Food, Booze, Tattoos, Kittens, etc.

My world, recently, includes six wood ducks, the mother and her ducklings, who gather in my yard, daily, and intermingle with two adult swans and their four cygnets, as well as a heron, who posts itself nearby most evenings, and who, occasionally, I’m able to watch as it goes about the business of swallowing a three pound carp. I live on a shallow bay, a wetland, really, so creatures are a minute by minute thing—muskrats, snapping and softshell turtles, the red fox that comes by at dusk, and birds birds birds . . . After far as music goes, the album I most recently listened to (several times over) was John Prine’s Lost Dogs and Mixed Blessings, which features songs such as “Lake Marie,” which is a dark song about our romance, American history, violence, and place. (I also wanted to mention this because I first heard this Prine album in Jonathan Johnson’s truck, years ago.)  As far as sustained listening, I’ve been immersed in Scott Walker’s music (Walker recently passed away), especially his operatic, avant-garde, anti-fascist Bisch Bosh. Talk about walking through brightly-lit darkness. I’ve been writing some to Gary Numan’s lesser known albums, his later funk-driven, industrial rock stuff, and in fact I believe that was something I was involved in when I wrote “Hawks.” Also Chrissie Hynde’s new solo work as well old Pretenders albums. I work, if I’m not traveling or out fishing for the day, quite often in a Starbucks that appeared in my very rural Indiana neighborhood recently, so it’s numerous Americanos a week for me . . . I’ve mostly been focused on writing and exercising, so my food menu has been reduced to basics—chicken and asparagus, yogurt and blueberries; repeat. I’m cataloguing recipes for Brussel’s sprouts though. I have been eating the trout I’ve been catching in various secret, cold-water, spring fed lakes, along with the occasional crappie.

About David Dodd Lee

David Dodd Lee is the author of ten books of poetry, including Animalities (Four Way Books, 2014), Orphan, Indiana (Akron, 2010), Arrow Pointing North (Four Way Books, 2002), Abrupt Rural (New Issues, 2004), Downsides of Fish Culture (New Issues, 1997), as well as a forthcoming book of collages, erasure poems, and new original poetry, entitled Unlucky Animals (Wolfson Press, 2019). He has also published two books of Ashbery erasure poems. He writes and makes visual art and kayaks in Northern Indiana, where he lives on the St. Joseph River. He is Associate Professor of English at Indiana University South Bend. His Twitter handle is @davdlee1 and his blog (which showcases his visual art) is at seventeenfingeredpoetrybird.blogspot.com.