Scarecrow Replies

Scarecrow Replies

 

This talk of destiny and exceptionalism and the incessant
push towards terror inflames my metaphorical innards.
Birds may kill, but they don’t practice genocide and never
erase history’s missteps with published falsities; their songs
remain true. Not so with man. What grows importance is
not what you hold but what another has in his grasp, no matter
how tenuous. I think of water and how some would charge
for the right to drink, or withhold it from those who cannot
pay. And air? Whose breath defines the dollar? Or the fear
that a distant neighbor might receive a benefit that you
neither need nor desire. Crows claim territory but roam
with the season, adapt as necessary. While they may provoke
curses in their wake, their damage is temporary and they
don’t poison for profit. If I could leave my post what station
would I accept? Having shared my days with sky-bound
friends, how could I choose another? They sing and swoop
and cooperate among the winds, taking only what they need.
They neither hoard nor covet. They steal but don’t swindle.
Their wings lift no grudges. Even gravity respects them.

“Scarecrow Replies” first appeared in MockingHeart Review in May 2018. Thank you to editor Clare Martin for her generosity and many kindnesses.

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

Hummingbird (4)

hummer

Hummingbird (4)

What overwhelms is the fate
of our breath
moving from one mouth

to the other, a form of
denial flickering by

like the hummingbird,
impossible in flight
but moving despite our logic.
The air

claims no intention. It waits,
and waiting, gives itself to us.

The gift we accept is of ourselves.

hummer2

“Hummingbird (4)” was written in the 80s, and first appeared here in July 2015.

Palinode (Texas, cedar, misery)

Palinode (Texas, cedar, misery)

More than repression, more than fate and the captive idiom. More
than denial. More than the juniper’s red wind, the grackles’ flocked
effervescence. More. My friend lives on clay and I, on stone. How
to express stability’s process, the jurisdiction of pollen? The warbler
suffers no choice but that of extinction; it requires. It breathes. It
feeds, it sings and yet we come to excision. Destruction, with no
thought to consequence. Wet clay expands. Stone is constant.

Stone is constant but harbors no thought to permanence. We are
its mineral, pressing for wisdom and the eternal: to gain entrance.
Look closely. The juniper berry is a cone whose scales have merged.
I seek space and find habitat bounded in half-truths and careless
talk as the north wind broadcasts microspores throughout my
neighborhood. Inhale and know the power of propagation. Helpless
in its path, we think only to escape.

We think only to escape and instead wear misery in the attempt.
Crusted eyes, raw throats. Diminished patience. Our neighbor
chain-sawed his female cedar years ago, but his discomfort continued
unabated. The Juniper Hairstreak butterfly overwinters as a chrysalis.
Golden Cheek Warblers nest among its limbs. I flavor food with its
berries, relish the shade in July, the fragrance, year-round. Celebrating
coexistence, we sneeze. My saw lies still.

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.

dial

Dark Rain Ahead, Hummingbird

image

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.

image

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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