Meeting the Bird Club
". . . the daily necessity of getting the world right."
Wallace Stevens, Adagia.
Armed like the thistles of this field,
we are all present and accounted for—
the city boy who took the buzzing of wrens
for rattlesnakes, and became a critic,
and the one who thought geese
calling far up in the dark were wolves,
who arranges tuna gear in ad-shoot canoes
and if challenged will claim irony.
Is it wrong to say they are wrong,
the author of children's books who thinks
the moon throws her celestial closet open
and dons on a whim a sickle one night,
a sky boat the next, and the lady who,
told to cast off, threw her picnic basket overboard?
In this season of dispersals, could we liberate
ourselves from these digital lifelists
and scopes with jeweled escarpments
long enough to free our hearts from their
stickle-backed containers, and try to find in each other
the common need that's drawn us here?
Couldn't we learn from the waywardness
of this rare autumn wanderer to forgo
our designer hacking jackets and
therapeutic intentions and take a look
at the goddamned bird?
A Week or So with Wings
Hair was more important
than oxygen when I was fourteen.
Who remembers what movie hero
or 45 rpm idol I thought I was
when I had Ducky LaMonica
give me a flattop with wings
that combed to a stop above my ears
and had to be tamed with
a jar of thug wax Ducky sold me.
I wore those wings to the pool room
we called the loop moor, feeling
like the picture of Mercury
on the phone book. Pete the Rack
and the Parisi brothers saw
nothing new, but now those wings
were beginning to seem
as visible to me as acne craters,
visible enough so my father
drove me to school on Saturday,
where Brother Cuthbert lectured me
on the dangers of shirts with
Mr. B collars, and the importance
of sports for building character.
A week or so with wings and Miss Curley
at the library sought me out behind
a copy of Silver Screen. A true
confession followed. Thanks to her
librarian scissors, I left with a crew cut.
I know the year because I have
its pop lyrics by heart. They stop
that fall when I went out for football.
One for the Raptors
It is not cute when Squirrel Nutkin
chews through the lead flashing
around your chimney to nest
under your roof, and chipmunks
harvest your pears as they swing
on the branches. This morning,
a half-mile away in the pine tops
across the marsh, a redtail hawk
flashes a white underwing,
settling in to open itself to the sun
and recharge. I want to call out
"Over here, over here," where squirrels
are climbing out of my woodpile
like the start of a commute. As in
the Disney version, one actually yawns
and covers its mouth with a fist. Once
there were only a few, but some days
now I do not engage in whirling
squirrel praise, I root for the raptors
and Farmer McGregor. There's
a plethora, almost a pleonasm.
Chipmunks, squirrels, and bunnies
enough to make you believe in
the spontaneous generation of cuteness.
So when a raccoon-sized gray squirrel
crosses the roof over my head at 5 a.m.
as though in galoshes, I root for
the horned owl that's deepening
its baritone in the dark, and cheer for
the Cooper's hawk when a line-up
at the birdseed recalls the rudimentary
cheek pouches of promotion committees,
or the way a senator on TV begins trembling
his bunny chin as he justifies
canceling insurance for children.