The Mathematics of Dying

grackles


The Mathematics of Dying

Always the sense of negation, of winnowing those bits you once were.

The male grackle struts and displays his tail feathers.

Everything slanting towards null, even the treetops.

The female’s smaller body lacks blue overtones.

A misread signal, the unheeded warning, ignored pain.

Counting beaks, adding wings, subtracting heartbeats.

The image I possess magnifies with age, observing protocol.

An annoyance or plague, their song grows harsher with time.

Your eleven shadows still point to the noontime sun.

* * *

“The Mathematics of Dying” is included in my mini-digital-chapbook, Interval’s Nightpublished in December 2016 and made available via free download by Platypus Press in their 2412 series.

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Dark Rain Ahead, Hummingbird

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Dark Rain Ahead, Hummingbird

The black-chinned hummer buzzes my flowered shirt,
bringing to mind the letter H, its history of an inferior life among

letters, and a Phoenician origin signifying fence.

An aspirate dependent upon others, or a line strung between posts,

even whispered, H does not contain itself.
Disconsolate or annoyed, the bird moves on.

Do names depend upon the power of symbols, or do they power the symbols?

In the 6th century A.D., Priscian disparaged H, saying it existed only to accompany.

Clouds shade the way.
The black-chin extends its grooved tongue at a rate of 15 licks per second.

Alone, the H’s voice is barely audible.

Through the trees, across the crushed rock driveway and beyond the barbed wire

and chain link, I hear deadfall snapping under hooves.
At rest, its heart beats an average of 480 beats per minute.

Modern Greek denies its existence.

Say khet, say honor and where. Say hinge, sigh and horse. Say depth.

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Originally published in Prime Number Magazine, one of my favorite online literary journals, in 2013,  it subsequently appeared here in June 2015.

Music Like Waves, Rising, Dispersing

Deborah Brasket shows us connections between a poem, music and starlings.

Deborah J. Brasket

Zdislaw Beksinski - Dagni Tobin - Веб-альбомы Picasa Zdislaw Beksinski

I came across this poem on one of my favorite blogs O at the Edges.

I love the image of the wave losing itself in dispersal only to rise again, just as music does in the playing, even in the inner repetitions, remaking itself.

Just as memory does, rising from mysterious depths only to disappear again.

Like murmuring starlings, spilling patterns across the sky.

So much “self-similarity” weaving this world together.

I leave you with three gifts: the poem that inspired me, the music that inspired him, and the wonder of murmuring birds.

Requiem

By Robert Ojaki

That it begins.
And like a wave which appears
only to lose itself

in dispersal, rising whole again
yet incomplete in all but
form, it returns.

Music. The true magic.

Each day the sun passes over the river,
bringing warmth to it. Such

devotion inspires movement: a cello in the

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The Ballad of Banaabkwe and Her Gulls

Anna Marie Sewell’s poetry is a force of nature. Read this!

Prairiepomes

What diplomacy today
can bring to the rescue mice fit to chew through
plastic nooses carelessly left to wind around
the bleeding necks and throats of sea elephants?
You don’t hear that fable, now, do you? – Don Perkins

1.
Banaabekwe, at her loom of seagrass
slowly, in dappled morning sun, weaves
stories for her little ones, to wear as necklace
until they are strong enough
to swim all the way out to sea.

There, the young manatees lay
their grass mantles upon a tide roller
a brave declaration of status attained
and pledge of love to salt water.

It is the gulls who act as midwives
to this epic surfing task; they cry
urging on the young ones, and send
their own youth to the challenge –

– Who can snatch a grass garland
from the crest of a wave, before
it breaks? Who dares leave it longest
even…

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After Before

mantis

After Before

A return to that
time when silence

reigned. The neighbor’s
guinea fowl have long

departed, but three cedars
drop needles in the driveway

even as reluctant growth
pushes out from the oaks’

limbs. Nothing circles
below the clouds, no

roosters crow. Feeders
hang still and empty.

The wrens remain
cloistered. You read

these events as separate
birdless chapters, all

hushed in the dappled
air, passages carried

yet confined by nearly
soundless threads

suspended from the
persimmon tree. You admit

a status as sentient
protein, one meal among

many, while you rest
and absorb

the soft ticking
of eighteen eager

juvenile mantises
on the porch screen.

feeder

“After Before” first appeared here in December 2015.

The Language of Birds

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The Language of Birds
(for Lydia)

Something thrown beyond
light: a stone,

words. The language of birds
evades us but for the simplest

measure. And how can we comprehend
those who live with the

wind when our own
bodies seem far away? In the darkness
certain sounds come clearer, as if in

absence one finds strength, the evidence
gathered with every breath. Speech is,
of course, not the answer. We release

what we must, and in turn are released.

* * *

This first appeared on the blog in April 2015 – another oldie dug out of a folder. I wrote it for my niece perhaps twenty-eight years ago, and don’t believe it was ever published. It felt good to finally release it to the light and air.

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Aubade (Inca Dove)

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Aubade (Inca Dove)

Such delicacy
evokes the evolution of hand
and wing, a growth

reflecting all we’ve come
to know. Two doves

sit on the fence, cold wind ruffling
their feathers. What brings them
to this place of no

shelter, of wind and rain
and clarity defied? Fingers

often remember what the mind
cannot. Silence
complicates our mornings.

This last appeared here in October 2016, and was originally published in The Balcones Review in 1987. Seems I was enthralled with birds back then, too…

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