Monday, October 6, 2008

Yet more poetry

This poem was born of several parents. One, of James Best's most recent poem posted on his blog. Two, of my own current poetry kick (itself born of a lot of recent emotional upheaval, I'm sure). Three, of this nutty bird that's been living in my grandparents' backyard, who has no sense of day or night. Enjoy!

Poems About Birds
“So when I am ready to read it, that bird will startle itself
right into my mouth. Down my throat.
And sing for me, make for me a second heart.
Trill away what I need trilled away."
--James Best, “The Bird”

There is a bird outside
that has no idea what time it is
one in the morning and
I’m brushing my teeth to an ornithological serenade.

I wonder if birds develop
mental illnesses.
Bipolar barn owls.
Manic-depressive mockingbirds.
Autistic African Silverbills.
I’m brushing my teeth at one in the morning
and there’s this bird
in the farthest corner of the backyard
singing itself into a frenzy.

Not a lullaby.
Not some haunting nightingale
a loon calling lonely on a moonlit lake.
I’m talking Mickey Mouse club
Bozo the clown sing-along
1950’s cornflakes commercial.
One in the morning,
I’m brushing my teeth with tears in my eyes
and there’s a bird out there
who doesn’t give a damn
just singing hallelujah to the good Lord
who made him.

Lissa said
there are things
that hurt so much that
it feels
like you don’t even have a heart.
An empty cage in your chest,
a vacuum in your ribs.
Anything that sang flown away.

One in the morning
and some bird doesn’t give a damn
that the sun set six hours ago.
Darkness already swallowed up everything
started in the corners at 7:00 p.m.
and slowly ate its way to the open empty spaces.
At one in the morning
everything is desert places
Silence that sludges through your veins
like mud
Making empty places emptier.

And somewhere
invisible in a corner
there’s this bird
who doesn’t give a damn.
To hell with empty cages
and the darkness that will remain
for another five hours at least.
This insomniatic out-of-touch damn crazy bird
is just singing hallelujah
to the good Lord who made him.


  1. Great stuff, Liz. I'm very flattered you used my lines as an epigraph.

    My only slight edit would be the fifth or penultimate stanza. It's such a beautiful image of the darkness starting in the corners and swallowing everything up that I would cut the redundant mention of the sun setting before that.

    I mention this only because this is the constant poetry workshopper in me trying to help everyone make things better.

    It's really top notch. One of the best things you've written so far.

  2. Thanks, James! The compliment means a lot coming from you. And to be completely honest, one of the MAIN reasons I publish my poetry on my blog is so that you'll read it and help me workshop it to its highest version. =) So keep up the critiques.