Epic by Bluejay

I'm going to pre-amble my way into this project, coming at it sideways, the way the poem began in the first place.  Preliminary squawks.

Bluejays hang around our street & the backyard.  They make the first raucous sounds every morning.  Once, though, as I was sitting out under the little dogwood tree, a bluejay a few feet over my head began doing something I'd never heard before - yodeling quietly, improvising, like a hopped-up mockingbird.  The poem which became Stubborn Grew was greatly influenced in its development by that particular bird.  I knew, if I was going to make an "epic", I had to open up.  To let go - be direct, be loud.  I had to squawk.  & change it up.  This may sound obvious : but it wasn't easy for me.  The bluejay led the way.

from Once in Providence

I sat in the backyard, in the May sunlight, 
in a whiskey haze, reading Ariosto;
there was a bluejay in a nearby pussy willow 
singing sotto voce scat with a pure delight.

I've never heard a bluejay sing like that –
like a manic soloing mockingbird
but softly, practicing – almost unheard, 
just overheard – hilarious arpeggios (b-flat).

That bluejay was a sort of humanist,
sowing his wild notes when he gets away
from neighborhood policing – jay, jay, jay!
and nay, nay, nay! all day (an airborne pugilist).

Maybe that bluejay – with the thick black 
creases around his eyes – etched by reading 
Time, and worrying about the times – seeing 
too much, too little – maybe he was that oblique

son of Ferrara himself, come to take charge 
of his only reader in Providence this year! 
and burble along with his blessed disio
dear bambino-talk. . . bird-humanist, at large. . .

Before he submerges (signed, untraced)
back into the ghost-world – into the maelstrom, 
like those robins, back where he came from. 
It's right that this clear crowing be effaced –

it's just.  Dark summer thunderclouds draw near. 
Epics of mockery will mimic their surrender;
Orpheus, another daunting barrator, goes under, 
breaking the code (with his broken-hearted mirror).

No comments:

Post a Comment