Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Kinds of Birds

A propos of something a friend brought to my attention, I've tried to write a poem with as many names of bird groupings as I could find. I think I have 63 but I'm having trouble counting.
Kinds of Birds

I want to know who names the congeries of birds
or whether their names hatch from their nests with them.
But when I put my hands in their covers
And cast myself out the house (empty volary)
without a coat
To ask them myself --- not a peep.
It’s like I’m inviting the bracing cold into my bones,
on the sedge by the river,
I clutch a tree branch, scold the vacating trees.
Tell me what the birds feel as they muster
Into sords, nides, neys or coveys
Or ostentations of feathers declaring:
A waste of words paddling south
in descent to where I trip, a wedge
in the company of Epictetus,
stand firm --- November, murder not the charm of birds.
Don’t brood on feathers that raft in the winds
or fall like a watchful colony
laying siege to my self-pitying shivering.
Give no tidings of unkindness when the steam boiling
From the kettles takes flight in wisps to the rafter of the building.
Do not wake the shrieking hordes who pack the skies,
Not until we dole out the tea into teacups,
And gulp it down.
Till exaltation is no longer a dissimulation
(come quickly spring)
when a bevy of bouquets grace
the parliaments congregating at a Roman emperor’s throne,
or in chains,
murder silence, eternal murmuration
of birds, given names
like manna from the heavens in a desert
that we walked through,
our faith in flocks of names
an unraveling skein in you,
oh Lord of Hosts, Lord of Deceits,
Badling God of the chosen party, bipeds on wing,
gaggles of birds.

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