Jill Coyle – What the Monkey Chased

June 30, 2014 | By | 2 Replies More

He lives in twisted vineyards

and pops up

in corners of conversation.


You might say

“There he is!”

and mean it

for a minute

until you’re mistaken.


Crossing neat rows

thrice nine times

under leaning vines

in the bright shadows

he hides in open places

and chases his tail

while you drink your wine.


Others say, “Ferret,”

but it doesn’t fit,

so the afternoon drags

and the ice bucket sweats,

although the chardonnay stays dry.


You are thinking you can

live your life uncertain of this,

live your life without names,

you can live your life just rocking

automatically to the beat

of half-forgotten rhymes.


Until something visceral

comes to consciousness

and you shout, “Weasel!”


As the word drops,

the world stops,

the animal looks at you.


His gaze is

the unspoken measure

of a long-sought line.



Category: Knowing

Comments (2)

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  1. I love this poem. I love it because I know what the author means about searching for the name of the thing that is somewhere on the tip of your tongue and in the back of your brain at the same time. And how much easier it is to let some things go unnamed. And how they can just burst into being when you accidentally say their name. Thank you for this.

  2. Jill Coyle says:

    Thanks for your comments! I saw a weasel at a vineyard, and having never seen one before, I couldn’t quite place what it was. It drove me nuts until I figured it out! It was a really cute, playful animal. Very fun to watch.

    I suppose you could also read the poem as a metaphor for the creative process. I think of the weasel as poetry.

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