Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry: The Alligator's Hum

Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine Poet Laureate

Kenneth Rosen of Portland has published numerous collections of poetry, including The Origins of Tragedy, which includes ?The Alligator?s Hum.? The poem brings together alligators, dating and poetry in a combination that makes us rethink all three.

The Alligator?s Hum by Kenneth Rosen

   To allure an alligator lady so she?ll allow him
To fertilize her eggs before she buries them
In her sand nest, the male alligator
   Hums in a swamp pond like a kid in a bathtub.
It hums like a foghorn: Hummmmmm! And raises
Queer geysers of water by his torso?s profound
Vibrations, these inverted, fragile, almost crystal
Chandeliers his obligatto of amor. I have tried this
  On dates without knowing what I was doing:
Hummmmmm! My date pretended she didn?t know
  What I was doing either and would ask,
?Are you all right?? Hmmmmmm! I?d echo,
Something below my solar plexus now governing
My lowest, reptilian, ganglion brain. But I swear,
  Like people who claim they can?t understand poetry,
She knew what it meant for the hum of the body
To dominate mind, It meant please admire
  My wet inverted chandeliers, which translates
Like all poetry too, into alligator: You can get me,
  If you let me, you grinning, beautiful
primordial swampwater creature you!? Then their tails
  Slap the water with a belly whomp.
They thrash like mad, almost invincible?though the human
  Eye is never naked?and then it?s over.

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2003 by Kenneth Rosen. Reprinted from The Origins of Tragedy, CavanKerry Press, 2003, by permission of Kenneth Rosen. Questions about submitting to Take Heart may be directed to David Turner, Special Assistant to the Maine Poet Laureate, at poetlaureate@mainewriters.org or 207-228-8263.