Withdrawn, it unfolds
to another
voice, like that

of a child lost in the wind.
Or, lonely, it rises from its place

and sings, only
to return and start again.
The pleasure we accept derives from

the knowledge that we are not alone.
Each morning we walk out and sit
by the stones, hoping to observe some

new patterns in his life. What we
see is an answer. What we hear is no song.

* * *

“Mockingbird” made its first appearance here in January 2015. It was written
in the 1980s, probably around 1987-1989.


49 thoughts on “Mockingbird

  1. How closely this poem mirrors my own experience. There is a mockingbirdthat visits me almost dauly. .When I see hm now I will think of this poem. I should read it to him.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Beautiful. I love the flow of this, and I hope the mockingbird returns to sing again.
    I’ve been enjoying a mockingbird’s songs this summer–morning and evening especially, but sometimes just at random times, he sings. I like to think that the pleasure is also his in announcing that we are not alone.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Mockingbirds used to gather around city-embedded York University in Toronto, my Ph.D. alma mater, and their songs would be filled with car alarms, cell phone rings, car key fobs bleeping as they electronically opened the cars, the local fire trucks, bus braking sounds, other birds, and cross walk bleeps for the deaf. The spontaneity and variety of their sound choices were rather miraculous to listen to, and they would go at it intensely for 10 minutes at a time. Bio-jazz of the highest level. It was a thrill to experience.

    Still, the most profound thing I have ever heard was walking through a local (Kyoto) temple complex at night on my way to the train. As I wandered, out of nowhere a Japanese nightingale (hidden in a tree) suddenly burst into a call a few feet away from me. I was momentarily surprised but immediately transfixed by the call: a slow whistle rising into a sudden chortle.

    The combine effect of being in a Buddhist temple at night, wandering alone, and this sudden call, was the text book example of what Zennists describe as a sound that instantly makes one enlightened. I felt like I and the nightingale and nighttime and the temple and all of reality were One and time/space were obliterated into an Eternal Now of that moment that was the Presence of Forever.

    I immediately “woke up” and lost the moment but glowed/floated all the way home to Osaka, and lay there in a joyous daze with my girlfriend, transformed. Eternity had briefly said Hello, and I still feel its gorgeous presence when I am not wandering around lost in the nonsense of my everyday mind. We just lay there smiling, in a nice snuggle, just being happy warm.

    The mockingbird and the nightingale… God’s beloved angels? The Buddha’s hymnists? Who knows…

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Bio-jazz! Yes, that’s it. A new term for me. One of our local mockingbirds included ring tones in his repertoire. Strange and wonderful. Nightingales and mockingbirds must be heavenly beings. How could they not be?


    • The “pup-PLEEE-pup” call of the red wing black bird and secondary “whee-hoo” call of the chickadee are songs from Heaven. These were the birds that sang through my childhood and to hear them makes me instantly sleepy and blissful.

      God, Avalokiteshvara, VIshnu… whom/whatever is animating Reality… such
      birds are His/Her/Its Eternal Song.

      Liked by 2 people

      • The songs and miracles of birds have always been part of my life’s backdrop, one way or the other!

        When I was a young child, we had a Mocking Bird in our backyard, who imitated my toddler brother’s tantrums… Whenever someone told my brother, “No,” he’d retort, “But I have to… (stress on 3rd syllable),” and that willful tune became our Mocking Bird’s anthem, too. We couldn’t tell the two apart!

        Red Wing Blackbirds are stunning — the one’s that live by us also have a yellow stripe on their wings above the blaze of red. The boys get pretty crazy/aggressive/protective when they have a brood: I’ve seen them dive-bomb Canada Geese twenty time their size… and intimidate them out of their territory!

        I’m pretty sure my spirit animal is a Red Tail Hawk. A few years back, I was glued to an Audubon Society live stream of a Hawk’s nest, and I watched the impossibly ugly and precious chicks emerge from their eggs and fluff up with their white down. One of the most tender moments I’ve ever witnessed was the mama masticating chunks of rat corpse for her chicks and depositing the gruel into their desperate, gaping beaks — and just for the record, that is something I would probably never literally do, even if life depended on it, but I’m well-versed in the metaphorical equivalent…

        My son’s first word was “Bird!” He was about 10 months old, and he’d been pointing at the trees and saying, “Buhhr…” I’d answer, “Yes, that’s a Tree!” and wonder why his articulation was so odd. It took me about a week to realize he was focusing on a finer detail within a bigger picture (representative of how his autistic mind views the world!).

        Anyway, Sir Robert, please keep the bird poems coming! They sing to me!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, George. Mockingbirds shatter the calm with glorious (and inglorious) song – they mimic so many sounds, not just other birds. One of the best incentives Texas has to offer.


  5. bird poem! I have always thought there is something a little sad about mockingbirds, but lonely is a better word. Miss hearing them on a daily basis. Wonderful poem as always.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Pingback: Mockingbird — O at the Edges – D-yuva

  7. What we hear is a deeply personal experience. To some a song. To others a sign of connection and meaning. I’ve occasionally felt scolded as one screams from a roof peak! Thank you for this reflection.

    Liked by 3 people

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