Frissons

by Jack Bedell

Sometimes a yawp comes
           from the marsh.

It echoes over the trees
           and stirs

turtles from their posts
           atop cypress logs.

Do not look for a bruise
           in the sky

or some vacuum of light
           sucking from that direction.

The hair will rise
           a certain way

on the back of your neck
           and forearms.

Follow these omens
           like compass needles

leading you some other,
           any other, place.

Jack B. Bedell is currently a Professor of English at Southeastern Louisiana University where he also serves as Editor of Louisiana Literature and Director of Louisiana Literature Press. His recent books are Ellipsis (Yellow Flag Press), Revenant (Blue Horse Press), and Bone-Hollow, True: New and Selected Poems (Texas Review Press).

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “Frissons”?

    During the summer of 2016, I spent a productive week at the Bread Loaf Orion Environmental Writers Conference. Over the course of the week, I noticed a majority of the work I was producing focused on the inventory and/or appreciation of nature as an external body. “Frissons” comes from an urge to address the visceral, internal impact the environment had on me growing up in the Atchafalaya basin. Compression entered into the composition process of this poem with the realization that any additional inventory of the physical marsh, or explanation of what makes the noise that occasions the poem, would distract from and dilute the visceral focus of the poem. This is especially true considering my heart often tells me sounds in the marsh come from a Rougarou or Swamp Ape haunting me like my parents promised me it would!
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