Upon a light barked limb of birch
a sparrow and a robin perch.
The robin shifts, the sparrow cries,
tilts his head, takes stock, then flies.
From an oak not far away
comes a bluebird and a jay.
The bluebird there to poach a nest,
the jay, simply to taunt and test.
The robin ready to give song,
protests briefly, moves along.
While hidden in the leaves above,
caws a raven, coos a dove.
This is a season unspent:
there will be snow yet and storms.
Today’s cold recalled
a mere discomfort
and the bite of this wind, but a kiss.
If I prophesy spring
will you pretend to believe me?
We can blanket each other
in warmth for a time.
With the moment eclipsed
by the cold truths of winter,
will you smile me strong
as I frown toward the north?
Go and be what you are bound to
make what peace you can
with the world
with the others around you
keep your wits
keep your warmth
and keep your weapons
close to hand.
Before us stand the mockings of a god:
Sound shapes and divine invocations,
the sun itself a yellow yawn,
the chaff of a hidden harvest,
a field of golden connotation
denoting bread for the soul.
And grounded pigeons,
too fat to flee or fly
peck sweet sustenance
from saturated air,
wise enough to wonder.
Fools of fate,
fortunate friends of a god.
Niggles and nags make for hours unending,
years appear moments that stealthily flee,
squandering days unaware of the spending,
slow to discover that no time is free.
A slothful student
spent her studies
listening to birds.
The music stopped
once forced to learn
to name the notes she’d heard.
She asked me what I meant and I fell silent,
and falling dumb, I fell upon my knees.
To mean is to maintain in spite of violence,
a steady and illusionary peace.
I battered her with doubt, I begged for something,
anything by which to be defined.
I am, it is, they are – Dear God, have mercy:
A stranger in a world to which I’m blind.
“Love”, she said, distressed, as if an answer.
I lost myself a moment in her eyes.
I rose both to her need and to embrace her
and spoke a gift of comfort and of lies.
I found my voice under a linden tree
where white dogs rolled in fallen seeds—
My eloquence, a simple smile
that spoke forever for a while.
I’m dumb to leaves and prairie grass;
a million colors can’t be named.
Wind conspires with shifting light
to humble language, exult sight.
I watched a bunting taking flight
from black to blue turn as I looked.
A list of shades between the hues
would burst the bindings of a book.
A spectrum spanned, a moment took,
a world encompassed in a blink
and all I ever hoped to know
vanished when I stopped to think.
“This way to the cheese.”,
said the mouse in the maze
as he walked along walls with ease.
And daily he fed
’till the walls were removed
then he wasted away by degrees.