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Thread: Audubon

  1. #1
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    Audubon

    Audubon

    1
    The night my father died I buried myself
    in a little language, a testament of will,
    measured out the way the stonecutter

    measures out our names to make them fit,
    and as I leaned beneath the bell of light
    to the cursor where it pulsed, I placed there

    neither man nor the shape of his absence,
    not grief as I knew it, but the tiny bones
    of ink that grief made, rising to the surface.

    I have met with those who disapprove
    of passing through too quickly into song,
    as if, with death, we give to it the first

    word which is none at all. Anything more
    is to make light of suffering: mine, yours.
    Or worse, to make far too much of it,

    to lose oneself in the futures market
    that seeks to clear a profit on misfortune.
    They have a point. That is, some songs need

    a certain hesitation to break the ice
    and move more deeply into winter’s current.
    Then again, tending to a song’s needs

    gives loss a vocation, and who is to say
    what will come of it, any more
    than what comes of music while it lasts.
    2
    Audubon loved the creatures that he killed.
    That is part of the story. He loved the music
    he silenced, gutted, stuffed with clouds of cotton,

    the bodies he cleansed with a surgeon’s care
    then mended with needle, a stitched seam
    tucked beneath the feathers where they shone.

    He loved the eyes that gave way to seeds
    of glass, the small black blisters gleaming
    with light that went just so far, so deep.

    Somewhere in that region of inquiry,
    in what he could not paint, the illusion
    of life took, and fluttered to the surface,

    informing the angle of the head, the beak,
    the bright rustle of wings as the ivory-
    billed woodpecker turns away from us

    to make out some motion in the distance.
    Movement is danger. Or so the heartbeat
    says at first, until it settles back

    onto its perch, its branch of understanding.
    What you see within the sure lines and blush
    of these renditions is an artist’s gaze,

    so steady, cautious as it crosses the lip
    of stillness, our open coffin, careful not
    to break the perfect silence where it breathes.
    3
    Suppose all the world is a house lit up
    against the night, and the eye of the bird
    our only window. If you look through

    the black air, you just might see a man,
    a father, say, who takes his broken sleep
    down the hall to a desk in the distance.

    He is peering over his heavy glasses
    to the near at hand, papers that await
    his signature to put his affairs in order.

    When he writes, his pen bleeds a little
    ink over the line, real or imagined,
    to lay a name against the emptiness.

    Birds slip into the flowered portraits
    of his study, silent, and yet made flesh
    by the hand that murdered to create them.

    The Carolina pigeon dips the nib
    of his beak into the mouth he feeds.
    If he spreads his colors, ribbed in black,

    it is one more song that calls the thing
    unseen. The man closes up his desk,
    and with it a passage in his testament,

    the part where he asks to be scattered,
    remembered the way a body remembers to breathe.
    A ghost thread pulls outward, like a word.
    .






    In a perfect world, our dreams will be fulfilled. There would be no hard work or planning ahead, because everything you want would be given to you. In the real world, where we all live, rewards must be earned. The problem most people have is in the day-to-day details of accomplishment. Accomplishment takes a lot of time, sacrifice and effort, and that’s the real rub for a lot of people. But, as Abraham Lincoln once said, “The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.”

  2. #2
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    Re: Audubon

    To Wait

    is no great

    bread.
    It's tough

    and mostly
    tasteless

    stuff.
    You chew

    and chew.
    It's said

    to be good
    for you, but

    it only fills.
    Swallow it,

    it swells.
    And it must

    be mildly
    sodiate,

    for its last
    effect is just

    like its first:
    thirst. Take

    birth, for
    instance:

    nine whole
    months

    a baby
    keeps mum.

    Take spring:
    up north,

    all time's
    a sandwich

    between thick
    white crusts

    of wintering.
    Take anything

    that bakes,
    brews, builds,

    or makes
    appointments

    more than a
    few days out.

    Take worry
    and doubt.

    And what's
    hurry but a

    hurried wait?
    Every day

    we wait for
    night; every

    night we wait
    for morning.

    Take warning.
    Take endings,

    especially
    endings made

    unnecessarily
    (or, worse,

    by excess
    drivel or a

    swiveling
    syntax,

    superficially)
    delayed:

    the wait
    is what

    a writer
    spends

    his brief
    and bitter

    tenure on
    this breath-

    taking, heart-
    breaking

    earth
    making

    every
    ending

    worth.
    .






    In a perfect world, our dreams will be fulfilled. There would be no hard work or planning ahead, because everything you want would be given to you. In the real world, where we all live, rewards must be earned. The problem most people have is in the day-to-day details of accomplishment. Accomplishment takes a lot of time, sacrifice and effort, and that’s the real rub for a lot of people. But, as Abraham Lincoln once said, “The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.”

  3. #3
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    Re: Audubon

    Feathered Friends

    On Spectacle Pond a laggard loon yelped, next
    I saw it, next I didn't. Hardly mannerly
    of me to paddle out chasing the loons, but I did.

    High fall color, but leaves upon leaves,
    spotty this year, begrudge themselves. They remind
    me of me, trying on grade school dresses in ill will.

    Undone! Obstinate spirit undoing! —reiterates
    whatchamacallit, territorial chirp of the backwater nondescript.
    Every so often my heart sinks without a trace.

    Shaggy pond, in finite patience, means to shrink itself
    soon to a meadow: tree-by-toppling-over-
    tree it raddles its rough edges gradually inwards.

    Despised exotic once myself, I did my stint of fish-&-wildlife
    mischief & thrived. (Among profuse apologies a few
    fresh aspersions cast, with luck nobody gets them.)

    Most maple leaves alight face-down. Buoyant on tips
    on the facile surface, they round their silvery
    wrongsides up & erect red stems; swanlike, disperse.

    Brief breather, then parties to refractory
    local hostilities resume: in a twinkling I snap up a modest
    rocky lakefront property, post my dissuasion.

    The pond mistakes itself for the time being.
    Inevitably most pond creatures fall prey.
    The pond quibbles and turns to itself a deaf ear.

    Solicitudes, regrets: community civilities
    too proliferate upon so little to recommend them that I do
    relish a tongue-lashing followed by laughter.

    Subject to lunatic humors, myopic of eye & woozy,
    I poured myself some glasses of water. Binocular
    blink: those two look to me like the same pair, year after year.
    .






    In a perfect world, our dreams will be fulfilled. There would be no hard work or planning ahead, because everything you want would be given to you. In the real world, where we all live, rewards must be earned. The problem most people have is in the day-to-day details of accomplishment. Accomplishment takes a lot of time, sacrifice and effort, and that’s the real rub for a lot of people. But, as Abraham Lincoln once said, “The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.”

  4. #4
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    Re: Audubon

    Within Shouting Distance of the Coosa

    Once in Alabama when I was young
    and given to aimless ambling,
    I followed a red road between pines
    where even at midday the cicadas
    were complaining, and with nothing
    on my mind and expecting nothing
    I was about to pause for water
    when the road's weedy roughness
    opened to a clearing where boards
    wounded by years of weather
    formed a modest church, the peak
    of its steeple gone and door scotched
    open. The wind was scattering pollen,
    and somewhere off in the needles
    a mockingbird thought it was evening
    and half-heartedly sang. Do I need
    to say I forced the door and found
    everything rain-soaked and broken,
    the pews only planks whose cinder
    blocks had fallen or were, as I've said,
    ruined? But I heard a hum or what
    I thought could be a hymn rising
    from behind the altar and squinted
    to see the worker bees dance and circle
    where they'd swarmed. Young
    as I was, I understood "not one step
    closer, do not disturb," so backed
    away, because I knew they believed
    their honey holy and would not
    suffer it to be troubled without
    rushing to beset me, and besides I'd
    already been touched by the Word
    and held under down at the river
    till I heard God's gold voice shining,
    insects swarming the choir's serenade,
    bee sound the very sound He made.
    .






    In a perfect world, our dreams will be fulfilled. There would be no hard work or planning ahead, because everything you want would be given to you. In the real world, where we all live, rewards must be earned. The problem most people have is in the day-to-day details of accomplishment. Accomplishment takes a lot of time, sacrifice and effort, and that’s the real rub for a lot of people. But, as Abraham Lincoln once said, “The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.”

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