Ars Poetica with Birds

Brian Simoneau

                Birds perched on the roof of a factory

across the lot. Then the roof was empty

                of perched birds. Another poem about birds.

You’re tired of birds and poems about birds

                 but it’s impossible to stop myself:

first, everywhere I look it’s birds; second,

                 it’s possible they’re flying dinosaurs,

dinosaurs flying everywhere we look.

                 Why would I stop after learning the earth

holds fossils with hollow bones and feathers,

                dinosaurs not at all extinct but here

and flying and singing us little songs?

                Like today: a frosted donut someone

dropped, the folded wings of birds, speckled birds

                pecking, plucking tiny bites but leaving

the donut, pink frosting stuck to asphalt.

                One came back again and again. I think

it was one but I don’t know if I know

                what I’m talking about. I felt others

(flock, murmuration, murder) hovering

                nearby, sensed growing anger I was there.

I imagined myself a scarecrow, clothes

                stuffed with scraps of paper, crumpled paper

covered in phrases from poems about birds,

                till another bird dug in, two of them

ripping the donut to bits. When they chased

                off a third, I imagined myself less

a scarecrow, more an orphaned bird stealing

                lessons in survival, a scavenger

learning its trade. I watched as if waiting

                for persistent birds to offer a taste

but then the parking lot emptied of birds

                my solid bones would not let me follow

so I found an empty page, its corners

                flapping in wind, and filled it up for you

to discover after my flesh is gone.


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