David Southward


Song of the Bog

Studies have shown that female frogs,
listening for the song
of wooing males, get most turned on
by an absurdly long

tune drawn out—or one that’s short,
compact and repetitious.
Either approach will wow a mate,
provided it’s ambitious.

Isn’t this eerily like the choice
between heroic verse
that rumbles on, and lyric rhyme
whose lovesick cry is terse?

Some nights Homer’s scrolling tongue
extends to suck us in;
on others, lonely Petrarch’s peep
tingles beneath damp skin.

Narration, pumped with metaphors
by bards grown fat on war,
may fascinate—but the heart leaps
for a pond-scum troubadour

who might just be our secret prince!
What gene pool would prohibit
our passing up an epic croak
for lyric’s ribbit-ribbit?


David Southward grew up in Southwest Florida and currently teaches in the Honors College at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He is the author of Bachelor’s Buttons (Kelsay Books 2020) and Apocrypha, a sonnet sequence based on the Gospels (Wipf & Stock 2018). David resides in Milwaukee with his husband, Geoff, and their two beagles. Learn more at davidsouthward.com.