9 responses

  1. This is a second draft of my latest. Salvageable? Possible titles include “And No Birds Sing,” “Realpolitik,” or your suggestion.

    The sun at 80, April,
    And I’m getting groove again
    With outside repairs:
    A gable end where old squirrels
    Gnawed a way for birds to sing
    Inside my bedroom wall.
    Recurrently the squabs trill
    Their mom’s return
    To feed and preen and multiply
    My space with such chatter
    That preempts any blog
    On Poetry, Politics, Love–
    Preempts my blessed Word, by god!
    Indeed they seem to lord them over me–
    These mocking chirps of fertility versus
    My arid room. Oh fine,
    Maybe in a tree somewhere
    But a lesson way too close today, a lesson
    Way too late…
    No, Birds, you’ve forced the hand
    With which I clip
    The screen wire by wire
    (I’ve already measured)
    And from atop my ladder check
    The long mesh triangle for perfect fit.
    It is, I nail. And nail to rule.
    And do. By dawn a starving
    Quiet chastens all. I search
    To hear them, somewhere,
    Somewhere, in the woods.

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    • Have to say, the narrator of the poem sounds like a churlish and mean-spirited old abbot. :/ That’s my takeaway. As for the poem itself, it might be one of the most narratively coherent poems you’ve ever written. Not sure what I would entitle it: maybe “Gnawed”?

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  2. Thanks. Yes, churlish, probably for two reasons. First, from having to deal with this problem over and over—whose nests present a potential fire hazard, let alone can attract snakes into the house. And, second, from priming on some completely opaque poems by Ashbery as a way to mitigate the potential for plain statement—i.e., “Die fuckin’ birds!”–with this kind of subject. By any chance do you feel his influence–say, in some shifting undercurrent of abstraction as you read the poem?

    Realpolitik

    The sun at 80, April,
    And I’m getting groove again
    With outside repairs:
    A gable end where old squirrels
    Gnawed a way for birds to sing
    Inside my bedroom wall.
    Recurrently the squabs trill
    Their mom’s return
    To feed and preen and multiply
    My space with such chatter
    That preempts any blog
    On Poetry, Politics, Love–
    Preempts my blessed Word, by god!
    These mocking chirps of fertility–
    They would seem to lord them over me
    Versus my arid room. Well, fine
    Maybe in a tree somewhere
    But a lesson way too close today, a lesson
    Way too late…and so, Birds,
    You’ve forced the hand
    With which I clip
    The screen wire by wire
    (I’ve already measured)
    And from atop my ladder check
    The long mesh triangle for perfect fit.
    It is, I nail. And nail to rule.
    And do. By dawn a starving
    Quiet chastens all. I search
    To hear them, somewhere,
    Somewhere, in the woods.

    Like

    • I changed one of the lines in Bicycles that you objected to. Thanks for your comments on that.

      Your poem still feels heartless. To me at least. In Vermont it’s illegal to mess with bird’s nests once eggs are laid (not that anybody honors that) — but many songbirds are endangered. “And nail to rule” seems a little gratuitous — like you’re taking a little too much joy in your starvation of them.

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    • Oh, and no, I didn’t trace a hint of Ashbery. Ashbery doesn’t strike me as a poet one can be influenced by in a piecemeal way. It’s all or nothing with him.

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  3. Thanks. But these are really ugly birds known to eat other birds’ eggs and nestlings, and sometimes kill and eat other adult birds (Wiki). Maybe if I re-titled the poem “Grackle” my attitude would seem more justified.

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  4. Thanks. I’ve never felt more guilty about a quiet room. And what about bats in your attic? Studies have shown bats to have an intelligence level equivalent to that of dolphins and primates. They also have complicated social structures and use 25 or more different vocalizations to communicate. Some species of bats even use syntax. (Quora)

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