by Dean Young
Dean, it’s Harry. No birds are nesting
in my birdhouses. What could it mean?
I don’t know why I answered the phone,
there’s already too much going on in
Nacogdoches and not even hello. Harry,
you haven’t even asked about my operation.
You sick? No, I had a heart transplant.
They do those with lasers now, right? Lapra-
dazically? No, mine was more complicated, I say,
with knives. Ouch, he deducts, but you must
be okay now. Antlers are growing out of my floors,
a snowman, an evil snowman delivers my mail
and I’m taking so many pills my tongue’s purple
and hair’s growing out of my forehead so no.
Well, sorry, but you’re the only person I
can call. No one knows the habits and inklings
of our winged friends like you. A query about
a foundling fledgling, a moody rooster, an owl
with self-esteem issues, you’re the go-to guy.
Even if you feel like a wobbly oblong peg
driven into a wedge of cheddar, you’re the guy
who holds it all together not only in avian
affairs but all atmospheric matters: comets
and Martians your métier, angels, and even clouds
for crying out loud. What would we do without
you? One day: no birds then stars all falled down
then what? Nothing! The void! The dark maw
of zilch! He was working himself into a fine
fettle and I had to admit, even if he was feeding
you regurgitated worm, he could make you feel
special and all of my pains, my multitudinous pains
would shrink to a single whinge like what a word
makes when it’s misspelled. Pilgrim, I say,
you need to clear out the old nests, your houses
probably jammed with others’ twigs and mud and stuff.
Birds, like the rest of us, like clean starts
and as I spoke I felt my new heart roost deeper
in my chest, fluffing out its blue breast, looking
for something to peck and this is how mercy
and poetry move through the world.
“Gizzard Song”, from SHOCK BY SHOCK by Dean Young. Copyright © 2015 by Dean Young. Used by permission of Copper Canyon Press.