Saturday, November 19, 2022

The Music Of Birds And Lions

The Music of Birds and Lions

If I had to say something about it
I would just mention
the way your eyes
moved through me
like fever through a lion,
like the brown-soled boots
of a Victorian explorer
walking lightly
with ownership, a dominion
powered by steam

careful always to
keep an echo-
map of the outback
in beige buckram binding
firmly gripped in your mind,
referencing pages dogeared
recording the reasons
not to fall behind on
a dangerous journey;

or that your hands
were always sliding in
a slipstream of tasks, were
water, embracing stones smooth
in their blue satin beds,
leaving behind a geologic
Alexandrian library
of lithic messages, codes
in languages of a few extinct
species of birds, envoys and diplomats;

that your long fingers on the stops
were your flight feathers,
playing a recital at nightfall
of calling macaws that come to color
the shadow-fronds of sunset palms
with their bright rest;
but there's no need to
talk about what you stored
under my skin, or tattoos in birdsong
that can't be forgotten,

so I only strum the music of it
where the lions rise
in the mauve gauze of
the jungle dark.

~December 2014
(minor revisions, 2022)

posted for earthweal's

(Nothing bubbling up from the cauldron this week, so posting another oldie, one originally written for Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads)

Images: The Sleeping Gypsy, 1897, Henri Rousseau
The Moment of Truth, 1892, Paul Gauguin
Public domain


  1. Sigh. This poem, full of unimaginably glorious imagery, just filled. Me. Right. Up. Absolutely superb writing.

  2. I remember this one vividly. A wonderful choice for renewed readership, dear friend.

  3. I remember this photo but, I must have missed your amazing poem. Thank you for sharing it again.

  4. Jazzmen like their night music the way vampire bats "like" blood, and the pile of shrunken heads (hearts?) swoon to memory's blues -- a demonic delight, the way the first drink at happy hour for a drunk is almost sacred it's so profane. Love the delicacy here of dusk and conquest - the colonized savors rapine's royal feast, making a music of it -- that, of course, is the native's revenge and the macaws' coloratura. A fine ember from the fire.

  5. I don't think it would be easy to forget such a person! I love your alliteration: 'beige buckram binding' - superb!


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats

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