from the perspective of Baltimore Orioles
First are the songs— a composition of whistles
and rattles. You always hear an oriole before
you see one. Then copulation; black and
orange ruffles in leaves. They find a branch high
above the ground to weave a bag. Pieces of plastic strips,
strings, branches, grass, one by one in the beak,
mixes with saliva. In the building and in its intent
is nest and what is to come afterwards — eggs,
hatchlings helpless and blind, throats stretched
out in a choral for food. Insect legs dangle
from a parent’s beak. The younglings will soon leave
the nest with a nudge off the edge — the first time
wings are used to convince air of its ability.
Between two elm trunks vertical and black —
bird in sky is an absolute.
first published in The National Poetry Review and Verse Daily
for my son –
How can I convince you
that you do have chlorophyll,
that you can take the sun’s
energy and turn it into sugar?
Produce something sweet inside of you.
Take the waste people breathe out
and make it into something that
will keep you alive, that will keep
those around you alive, create oxygen.
Why do you say that this metaphor
doesn’t work, that you don’t have
the powers of a plant, that nature
didn’t intend you that way?
Look, how you twist and turn
towards the light.
first published in EarthSpeak Magazine
Not Worth a Bullet
A bullet is made of
copper or lead.
poured into the case.
The firing pin hits the
primer at the back of
the bullet which starts
the explosion. Altogether,
the bullet and the case are
typically about two inches in length
and weigh a few ounces.
My father said that
told him and the other
prisoners while in
that they were not worth a bullet.
They would work for the Vietcongs
and then die.
A bamboo tree is smooth, long
with roots that hold the earth
with the strong grip of green
knuckles and fingers.
They are used to build houses,
A bamboo tree can weigh sixty pounds
or more and be twenty feet tall.
The prisoners were forced to
walk barefoot up the mountains
and carry bamboo back to the camp.
Due to the weight of the bamboo,
they were only able to carry one
at a time.
first published in the chapbook, Cartography of Family (Chippens Press, 2010)
Vietnam Ghost Stories
Ghost-like beings roam,
carrying the bones of the dead,
their steps heavy with the weight
of fields and fields.
And the dead too –
stories Mother tells
of the ghost with a long tongue
that licks dishes at night.
first published in the chapbook, Cartesian Product (Silkworms Ink, 2010)