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Transom:
Your poem, “Uselessness,” ends with a pregnant animal and the speaker, “too close to the ground/to be truly noted or fall.” Is it more useful to be noted, or to fall?

Hellberg:
Neither is preferable. That was the aim of the poem, to parallel the speaker with a relatively 'useless animal a scavenger and pest that still has a job to do: give birth. The speaker thus would have some small purpose, though what that is the poem doesn't need to say. At the time I wrote the poem I was moving around quite a bit in the western US, mostly working as a carpenter or remodeling houses. I certainly didn't feel worthy of note, but it was an honest life. It kept me from falling too far. I saw this particular raccoon in Utah and I hope she's well.

Transom:
The syntax of your poem leaves open the possibility that the “mother swollen/soon to birth” could either be the starving raccoon or the blue koi. Is the distinction between predator and prey important in this poem?

Hellberg:
I tried to let the lines act as punctuation for the poem which is a very loose sonnet, a form I've been writing in almost exclusively now for years. I am not sure I'd call a raccoon a predator, though. I don't consider the koi prey either. There is just a strange security being at the bottom of any 'chain' (food, hierarchy, etc.) in that you can't really topple down much lower and you're hopefully under the radar of any authorities (predators, debtors, etc.). Then again, you can always be a little lower, like the koi. Or at least that was the thought I had in mind when I wrote this particular poem. Sometimes you eat the raccoon (I don't recommend it) and sometimes the raccoon eats you, I guess.