Ars Poetica with Birds
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.
about the author