Little Mouse


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poems by

Bill Griffin

Poetry chapbook, 40 pages, $10 cover price

ISBN: 978-1-59948-275-0

Released: 2011



Bill Griffin is a family doctor in rural NC. Wilderness fascinates him, whether the dark woods of the southern Nantahala forest or the strange dim wanderings of the psyche. Bill’s poems have appeared in dozens of regional and national journals, including Southern Poetry ReviewCave WallNC Literary ReviewPembroke Magazine and others. His three previous chapbooks are Barb Quill Down (Pudding House 2004), Changing Woman (Main Street Rag 2006), and Snake Den Ridge, A Bestiary (March Street Press 2008).

Come sit beside me in the moment, Griffin says in this book dedicated to all 6,865,902,157 of us. And such is the tone of all of these poems — poems from a complex and generous soul deeply involved in the making of meaning, in the archetypal and critical concerns of humanity.

–Scott Owens

Here is a lovely book of psalms to the human family (over six billion in the dedication!), and one that ranges to include the entire living creation. Griffin’s music is nimble, fresh, and delicate as the tiny bones of the mice that are sometimes principals, sometimes metaphors for humankind. These are poems of tender compassion for the vulnerable “little mice” of all creatures in their dance of life/death, deeply spiritual as if Thoreau were back and speaking in our time.

–David Treadway Manning

From the tradition of Randall Jarrell’s bat poet comes Bill Griffin’s little mouse, singing us the “earth story.” Part book of psalms, part primer on the human condition, these gentle lyrics take us on a journey through the richness that is life, with all its mystery and paradox, where the dread that comes in one breath is answered by joy in the next. This is our story, and little mouse our spirit guide, offering us these “few terse squeaks that mostly have to do with yes.” Yes, I say, to these straight-to-the-heart songs. Yes to each moment that little mouse illuminates and shines back to us. Little mouse, of course, says it best: “The simplest things reveal the greatest.” This is a book to which I will return again and again, carrying it with me like a prayer or a friend.

–Rhett Iseman Trull


little mouse

This is hard to say: I’m not sure
of you. Every night another storm
scatters our nest; in the aftersilence
I practice words that would make us right,
but in the morning they scurry and flit

like little mice, gone. What hawk’s shadow
am I afraid of? That our struggle
will abrade the husk that once cracked allows
something green to sprout?
Or that one of us will flit and scurry, gone?

Carve away the confusion about what little
we’ve made and may make, cut out every
what might have been, what might become, write
them into another poem named (hunger)
or (parent). What does that leave?

I’m not sure. When will I confess
what I’m not sure of is me?
This nest is a straggle of shreds
and promises. This nest is now.
Come sit beside me in the moment.

little mouse

They are barefoot and smile
no cat’s prey welcome, no sharp
canines; they clad the gold
of their perfection in flannel, denim;
they defer to small and gray

with no awareness
of their deference. They are so high
that low is an abstraction;
they give and have no name
for giving. How to remain jealous

of such? How to retain
the urge to gnaw their hem?
When I bleed they heal, but when
the trap that twists
and eats me is a ragged blade

of days and years and no escape only
endure, then they see from a cloud,
confused. They bend to touch
this thing they thought was them,
and then they cry.

little mouse

The simplest things conceal the greatest
mysteries. First, this oak: three hundred years
hunkered on the mist-grazed ridge. Dew-
jeweled whiskers grayer than mine.
Ten feet up, rooted in the broad embrace

of its branching, an orange flame blooms,
wild azalea; its own entanglement, a mouse’s nest.
Next, home: you spread a damp cloth
across the wide crock and a musk
of blessing expands to fill the kitchen,

tiny lives expanding in the dough.
And one more miracle: tomorrow the warm loaf
you carry to the altar becomes
forgiveness. I chew mercy. I swallow.
Tiny lives; the great and ancient life;

my soul small, whiskered, gray become
acceptable. Now this prayer: invited I invite.
Come into me all you lives, expand
my heart, become in me an oak, a warm kitchen.
The simplest things reveal the greatest.

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