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NaPoWriMo Poem #11

On hanging a bird feeder

If I am a stranger to myself
maybe I’ve always been,
wondering at the man I’ve become,
buying a better drill to drive
these screws into the deck post
when twelve volts couldn’t do the job,
securing this wrought iron hook
to hang this lantern-like object
with its windows only reflecting light
I can no longer discover inside.

And then the disappointment begins
when nothing seems to happen,
days of waiting like a child
for a Christmas morning with no snow
and a living room floor absent
of the gift Santa promised to bring,
sitting in a cloth-backed chair
sipping beers at sunset,
the wind gently flapping
the sun-filtered shade of an awning
while blue-gray clouds ease their way
eastward beyond the trees that lean
into a sky past the fence line.

This is pointless, I think, listening
to that ambient susurrus
of neighborhood noise like ocean currents,
what winged thing would ever want
to visit me in my apathy?
And, of course, nothing answers,
as it always does the thoughts
of an aging mind.

But, life still holds an element of surprise,
life still happens without announcement
of itself, when without applause
a red-breasted finch alights
along that lantern’s metal-railed base,
cocks its head to and fro
as if in ambivalent acknowledgment,
picks up a seed in its black and white beak
and flutters out of sight,
back into the canopy of camouflage trees,
and there’s this moment
this inexplicable pause in the minutiae
of heartbeats flooding my veins,
where happiness finds its wings.

Poem on the day of Stephen Hawking’s death

An ordinary day

Slept until noon because the sun has never been enough
to get me out of my own head, to get me out of bed,
to get me past feeling the opposite of weightless,
and after two cups of coffee, I’m skipping the shower.

It’s overcast and raining just enough to make noise
like an old television left on past midnight
and then it’s opting not to starve to death
and walking the dog once the static fizzles out.

The streets still wet, potholes filled with gray water
or brown water along the unpaved edges,
we could see our breath but breathing felt ordinary
and so, not worth acknowledging more

than birds chattering somewhere overhead, unseen.
I lose myself in tasks I put off longer than I should,
I load the dishwasher, drill holes and hang shelves
twice because I measured wrong, like most things

I am careless when I’m confident. The dog barks
at the vacuum, at the neighbor’s goat, at me
until I feed him and there’s a cat on my chest.
Two beers, a glass of whiskey and I’m buzzy

playing my guitar until my fingers are sore
because I rarely play guitar any more,
so on goes the television for some company
and off go the shoes, into slipshod piles by the door,

Stephen Hawking died today
and I heard about it via text,
a momentary pause among these flourishes
of ordinary perception, refracting around grief

or its absence.