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June 13, 2011

by Elizabeth Bodien

Prisoner (netsuke) by Elizabeth Bodien


Elizabeth Bodien (website) lives near Hawk Mountain, Pennsylvania. Her poetry appears in The Fourth River, Watershed, The Litchfield Review, Schuylkill Valley Journal, Mad Poets Review, and Cimarron Review, among other publications, and her chapbooks include the award-winning Plumb Lines (Plan B Press 2008), Rough Terrain: Notes of an Undutiful Daughter (FootHills Publishing 2010), and Endpapers (Finishing Line Press 2011).

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  1. Christina Pacosz
    June 13, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    Gorgeously detailed photo of a netsuke from fossil ivory I’ll warrent – I once worked in a gift shop in Anchorage – but any ivory creates the desire for more, much like gold, and elephants and rhinos are being slaughtered for it.

  2. Jean
    June 14, 2011 at 7:15 am

    This is wonderful in so many ways.

  3. June 14, 2011 at 9:03 am

    The meaning contained in this on so many levels: first of all, the image in the poem itself (the prisoner, locked in with the little scavenger), then you see the figurine which plays out that image in a very literal sense, and then you have the death implicit in the netsuke itself being made out of ivory. Destruction on three levels. Chilling and brilliant.


  4. June 14, 2011 at 9:48 am

    the curled up figure so captures sorrow and resignation and the haiku with it saddens the reader-looker even further – a perfect marriage and beautiful.

  5. Dorothy McLaughlin
    June 14, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    The prisoner’s head is bowed but he can still look at me, not with hope, just resignation, as miriam said. The sole companion shown is a rat, a creature dispised and feared, but at least the prisoner is not alone.
    “Waits and waits….” with the ellisis. The poet’s last words don’t end the poem; it’s kept open. Words and image are poignant.

  6. tamsin
    July 9, 2011 at 12:53 am

    each so powerful on its own
    together a perfect fit

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