Day Six Poem: Scarecrow’s Wealth

 

scarecrow and crow

Scarecrow’s Wealth

Who needs words when you own the wind?
When your wingtips flash and you know the subtleties
of reflection and shrugs and the next moment’s
glee. My friends bring me bits of each day.
Today, the bright cap lifted from a cava bottle’s
cork. Three days ago, an aluminum heart
stamped with “best.” The rodent-nibbled straw hat
perched jauntily atop my head bears a pearl
earring, and yesterday a skeleton
key materialized in my left coat pocket,
in which a mouse skull and foil wrappers
also rest. My wealth abounds, and despite
protests, I am rewarded daily. Look, they say,
accept this offering for what it is: a participation
in joy. So I point to choice grains, contribute advice
and song, screech warnings and recite poetry,
though my straw tongue often wavers.
What else may I tender to those who travel
so freely? Last week a polished hinge
came to me, and before that, a chipped glass
eye, which might someday replace my missing
ocular button, should needle and thread appear.
Each day is a gift to be shared. Every gift,
a celebration of days, a commitment to living.
I am grateful, and in my gratitude, give.

 

 

* * *

Many thanks to Charles of Words and Feathers for sponsoring this poem. If you’d like to join in on the fun, see my September 5 post for sponsorship details. Give me a title, provide some words. Or think of another challenge! It’s all for a good cause: Brick Street Poetry, Inc. 

Tomorrow’s poem is titled “The Kohlrabi Polka,” and is sponsored by Pleasant Street, who provided the, uh, interesting title.

Cardinal

 

Cardinal

Question: what is air if not
the means by which we

see and feel? Sound creates only
itself, another version of the original

sense. I move from shadows to a deeper
darkness, hoping to find that point where absence
ends. But there is no end, only

continuation, a cry for those
who offer their hands in ambiguity. Sometimes
a cardinal’s call fills our

morning with questions. So
little of all we touch
is felt. We are the air. The air is.

 

 

Another poem from the 80s. I was obsessed with birds even back then…

The Art of Flight

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The Art of Flight

What wings accumulate is not air
but space, an exemplar

of restraint defied. I listen
and hear feathers

ruffling in the shadows,
a vibration that swells

until it becomes flight or
regret, the retrieval of our

bodies from this dream of ascent.
The art of flight is one of

disturbance, of angles and lift
and touching what can’t be seen.

What we hold carries no meaning.
The beauty lies in the gathering.

 

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I wrote this piece in the mid-80s, and posted it here in 2015. I’d forgotten about it, until I found the original moldering in a box of old papers. It’s okay, for an artifact from another life…

While Blowing on the Shakuhachi I Think of Birds

While Blowing on the Shakuhachi, I Think of Birds

Yesterday’s sorrow
dissipates in joy.
Though you are not here, I hear your voice,

blow a solitary note in response.
Your philosopher bird carries it to you,
two-thousand miles away,
as the wren brings your song to me.

This is love today
and tomorrow, 
embodied in birdsong and faith.

Next week I will know your touch
as you will mine.

We’ll follow our lists,
starting with lips, while the universe
surges around us, filling the voids we never saw.

Needs, answered.

Perhaps the world will end.

Perhaps the red-tailed hawk will follow its nature.

Perhaps I will stand on the roof and shout your name.

But today, this little bird nesting in all the unsaid spaces,
is all I have, little mouth flickering, forming moons and

new mornings, new shadows, new light.

* * *

“While Blowing on the Shakuhachi I Think of Birds” first appeared in Voices de la Luna in March 2020.

Threes

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Threes

Difficulties arrive in waves,
lending weight to the theory of threes,

the plunging fund, a failed engagement, the self’s
doubt, all combined to inflict the particular

misery of the ongoing, the continued, inelegant fate
that declares us human. Look,

she says, the hummingbird flits from leaf to
flower, its wings beating 58 times a second,

a fact not to be trifled with, for what may we duplicate,
contemplate, even, at that pace?

Say the hedge gets clipped, the ring whirs off the finger
and back to the jeweler, and all you know for certain

is that you don’t know. There is no why, no how. No
way. Or life’s reel unwinds and plays only in

reverse. Where do you stop and splice it, forming new,
uncharted worries? And what about that damned

bird, buzzing around your head in territorial fury? Yes,
yes, I know. These things are not my concern. Not really.

But they arrive in unending repetition, one after
the other, in clumps of three – lovely, lonely,

triple-threaded lines of vicissitude lapping at our ankles,
saying nothing, saying everything, saying it used to be so easy.

 

* * *

“Threes” was riginally published in Eclectica in July 2014, and first appeared on this blog in July 2015.

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Nocturne (Blue Grosbeak)

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Nocturne (Blue Grosbeak)

Why tremble
when nothing
arrives to be seen?

The architecture
of the day
comes and goes

in the same
heartbeat,
a disturbance

more felt than heard.
But listen.
The grosbeak sings

his presence
and departs,
leaving behind

the echo
of a motion
blending with night.

The air is cool.
A leaf utters
its own message

and falls
unnoticed.
Nothing awaits it.

 

* * *.

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The Sky Refutes East and West

nest

The Sky Refutes East and West

Here, the horizon lingers.
The open eye, the mouth’s shape.

A hoop, the circle without iris.

Does the screech owl acknowledge latitude and hemisphere?

The Semitic alphabet contained no vowels, thus O
emerged as a consonant with a pupil, morphing into a dotted ring,

and later, with the Greeks, an unembellished circle (which of course

they cracked open and placed at the end). The female lays eggs

on the remnants of earlier meals lining the bottom of her den.
If you listen at night you might hear the purring of a feathered

cat (the Texas screech owl’s call varies from that of its eastern cousins).

The difference between sphere and ball.

To pronounce the Phoenician word for eye, sing the lowest note possible,
then drop two octaves. They usually carry prey back to their nests.

Screech owls are limited to the Americas.

Coincidence and error, the circumference of other.

 

***

“The Sky Refutes East and West” was first published in Prime Number Magazine, and also appears in my chapbook The Circumference of Other, included in Ides: A Collection of Poetry Chapbooks (Silver Birch Press, 2015). It made its first appearance here in May 2016.

eastwest

Palinode (birds)

 

Palinode (birds)

Simplicity, as in the cloaca. One aperture for all: eggs,
urine, sperm, feces. The majority of birds copulate
by joining the openings of their cloacae (most male
birds lack penises). Nothing is for nothing.

Nothing is for nothing, but the ache of emptiness
bestows its own reward. That movement from outer
world to inner, to anima, to breath, to flight,
approaching heaven. Birds know the way.

Knowing the way, birds express our envy of the
boundless, testament to the unity of earth and sky,
instinct’s voice. We see feathers not as epidermal
outgrowths, but as emblems of what we forever seek.

As emblems of what we seek, crows exploit man’s
folly, exposing hidden truths. Thought and memory
recede, leaving us foundered. Altered consciousness,
flight, the space to believe, simplicity’s forms in one.

 

“Palinode (birds)” first appeared in slightly different form in Otoliths in fall 2016.

 

Uccello

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Uccello

the wind is what
the stillness
desires to say
each instant
collapsing into itself
like a bud
returning
to the seed

listen
the birds in my tree
are silent
as echoes
before their brief
lives are
silent

something thrashes
in the leaves
the feather
spiraling
slowly
is not only what
it is

as the candle
is more
than flame
or a moment

curling
to darkness

the question
is of clarity

I built a frame
but placed
nothing in it

the wind
blows through
quietly as if
between silences
there exists
only silence or

light
the familiar embrace

unfolding

 

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Originally published in 1987 in a short-lived publication called The Balcones Review, this is the opening of a longer work. When I last looked out my window at that same tree, I heard the birds, no longer silent.

 

Diverting Silence

 

Diverting Silence

Wren canyons down the morning’s edge, proclaiming dawn.
Unpapered, unfettered, fearless, he abides.

I say “he,” but sexual dimorphism is not apparent in the species.
Accepting signals, we process and choose, freighting gender aside.

Listening requires contextual interpretation, as does belief.
Shrilling to the porch screen, he spears a moth, veers outward.

An acquaintance claims birds are soulless, existing only to serve God.
As temple bells exist solely to announce, and rain, to water lawns.

Faith’s immensity looms in the absence of proof.
Spherical and hollow, suzu bells contain pellets.

The search for truth without error does not preclude fact.
Even tongueless bells ring.

 

 

“Diverting Silence” was published in Taos Journal of International Poetry & Art in February 2017.