In the Songs of Birds

When I was three,
My mother taught me to read,
And words
Became playthings and playmates
As I sat in the back of the restaurant
Watching her work her dream to death.

Later, as I grew,
Family losses piled, heaped
Weighty upon the shoulders of a nine-year-old.
Words became
Escape, shelter, survival,
A path out of destruction.

And so, words stayed
For more years than I’d care to say.

But now here,
Waking mornings,
Hearing birdsong,
Or in early evening,
The warm sun blanketing
My skin as I fill the birdfeeders,
I hear words in the songs of birds.
Silly though it may seem,
The cardinals have much to say,
“It’s cheaper here. It’s cheaper here.”
To “Pretty, pretty, pretty.”
The mockingbirds chatter away
Announcements of “She’s here, she’s here, she’s here.”
And I’m not sure which bird continually asks,
“Wanna see, wanna see, wanna see a receipt?”
All the while, the Blue Jays squawk away,
Warning all the others,
“Stay away! Stay away!”
Then in the chittering of the squirrels,
I hear the demand,
“Where’s the food? Where’s the food?
You let the food run out! How dare you?”
As they scurry away,
Pretending, at least, to be afraid of me.

Among all the noise and chatter
All the words of birds and squirrels
One word, never felt before now,
I feel move within my chest,
Peace.

Falconry

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A screeching hawk climbs overhead,
Gliding, swooping in pursuit,
Her flight a perfect merger
Of beauty, purpose, and skill.

If only, if only
I could capture such a hawk
Train and bend
That beauty and skill
To do the bidding of my will.

Sent forth from my hand
In a powerful surge of wings,
Pummeling air,
Finding the perfect draught of air
To glide upon,
Turning, searching for prey,
Then sighting her trophy, her prize,
Sweeping down, a beat of wings,
A shift of body,
Talons extended,
What seems a pause,
A slowing,
Talons snatching,
Squeezing, sinking into a snake’s skin,
Wings beat, once, twice,
A cry as she lifts her body
And her limp prize,
Upon the air to glide,
Turning homeward,
The purity of her purpose,
A dance upon the air,
Done.

If only, if only
From my hand could fly
Such beautiful purity of purpose.

Ten in Ten

Ten hurricanes in ten weeks,
Or so says CNN,
North Korea and Iran
Could be shaking hands
If it comes to WWIII
California is burning
Vegas is still hurting
Puerto Rico has little
In the way of food and water
While Trump signs yet
Another executive order
Could nearly turn an atheist
Into a person of faith
But you know what they say,
Everyone prays in the end.

Trails

Set out years ago
Dropped breadcrumbs
Some no bigger than dust particles
Of the soul
Along the roads and paths
Thought I’d find my way back,
There’d be time
There’d be years
Be months
Weeks
Days
Seconds
Left before the sand
Absconded with the hourglass
To find the trail of dust and crumbs
Sweep and pour them
Back into the soul
Add a few ingredients
Create once more
From the beginning

 

But birds and squirrels
Feasted on the leavings
And I’ve no desire
To return to where I started.

 

 

For You

 

Words drift
Settle, pile up
In drifts and banks
Over the rocks
In my mind.

I walk through
This blizzard of words,
Watch them settling
On my shoulders,
For a moment, perfect
As exquisitely delicate lace
Before disappearing,
Melting into the wool of my coat,
Gone, lost to me forever.

But not you,
Never be lost to me.

When I’ve had nothing else,
Words were always there,
Trusted and true,
Counted on, relied upon,
Supplying all I needed,
When there was nothing and no one.

But for you,
To always have you,
I’d watch them all–
Drifts, banks, flakes
Melt, dripping away
Into spring
And you.

Creation

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I carved you
from the stone of me
chiseled out your edges,
inside and out,
freed you from the depths
of my abyss,
while my ears
felt the sting
of the hammer pounding,
my bones felt the crunch
of the chisel chipping,
my skin felt the ripping slice
of stone shards flying
tearing through all
flesh and bone of me
until
there was you
sculpted better than
the worth of me
cast off from you
I absorb in finality
what it is
in the truth of God
and pray.