Birdsongs

I recently worked with baritone Robert Brandt and mounted a performance of these Birdsongs.

“While living in Michigan, the thick deciduous woods had a way of creeping into my mind. The many birds who lived there unwittingly (or not!) made it into my prose, and after a few years I realized I had handfuls of poems about various species and my interactions with them. I’m intrigued by the mysterious nature of this particular collection of words and subjects that I did not initially intend to make and realized I had only in retrospect. Here are only a few of them, collected and composed into a cycle, each giving glimpses into what these birds revealed to me in and around the majestic forests of the Midwest.

Performed by Robert Brandt (baritone) and Barbara Allen (piano). Jan. 29, 2015.”

On Children

The Little Girl

The little girl

Caught in class
Because her folded secret
Did not get there
Cried
In the corner.
 
“It wasn’t meant for you.”
She sobbed.
“It wasn’t meant for you.”

With the Chalk

My son held the chalk,

And rolled it in his hand
 
He gazed up
And past the hoop
And past the ash
And past the power lines
 
And past the rotting spruce
Into the fading ether.
Then he turned to me and said,
“Look!”
And so I did.
 
“I like that,” he said
Then bent to make
A lavender bow from the stairs
Across the crumbling walk.
 
“Look!” He said
Pointing down
Instead of up
 
Then he went inside to play. 

In the Desert

As the car passed through

The dry and aching desert
There were few things that
Caught the awe of the boy’s
Imagination
 
Suddenly, after cacti, cliffs
And clouds, 
His arm extended 
And from a fist
Affirmative, a finger unfurled
And pointed to
A hypothetical.
 
“I think there’s a volcano out there.
“I know it.”
 
 

Three Poems of the Atmosphere

1.

When wind
And crescents wax
And bring
The earth to blush,
Arbor silhouettes
Wave in gray
And stoic wonder
Between
Land’s terrestrial breast
And heaven’s astral shield

2.

I want to see the lights
The voices of the stars
Transmitting
To my pale, shuttered eyes
They do not speak or sing,
But hum
Through the black
And aching cosmos
Till their stream of constant
Urgings, flickering and rarefied
By years of space and light
Autonomously guide and find
My seeing ears and hearing eyes

I want to hear them
Now, and then
I want to see them
Humming

3.

Drenched and drowning
in the sunset’s creamy
bliss, I drift
towards the sea
and clutch my heart.
For all this happens
flowing in the masterpiece
of evening’s swirling palette,

and I’m reminded
that we feel
see and touch
in color