He sings the car alarm, the flock of feral parrots,
The seagull from a distance. He sings them through
The night, deep in the fern pine by the window.
The scrub jay, the crow, the purple finch—all immortal
And awake in his song, echoes of other desires.
At dawn, he’s perched on the power pole, casting
More broadly—and with better chances—above
The voices of cars and leaf blowers, city noises
Not worth repeating. But it’s the night-song,
The song without hope. . .That’s forlorn; the truth.
A harmonic of the heart, weaving another’s voice
Into your own: Alien and distant, now new,
But back to the source, to that poetic fire
That crouches in belief, that there is reason
To find wonder in the world, and the world
Contains the power pole and the singing bird.
In fact, it’s central, a seat for it. In fact. Reliving
All the lives before it while his universe turns
Around this pole star, brightest point of knowing
Now, until there is no difference between us.
Singing praise to a thing long dead, saddened
At the song unheard, he sat in the garden,
Mid-night. There was a past (there is always
A past) and a journey to come, but slipping
Out of himself and into the story, he saw
Into the darkness, through time, and gazed
At other listeners, at flowers blooming
In the absence of light; he beheld, became.
I cannot see what is to come or know any longer
What was, so I will sing and so re-create them.
There are no nightingales here, but many voices.
Impatient, I cannot wait for the ripening, take
It now. Being in everything I cannot see—
The more broken, the stronger I become—
True of every thing: That same song could be
Heard for miles were it not for the four-oh-five,
But were it not for the four-oh-five, I wouldn’t be
Here, and without me, there would be no song
Heard; it’s a dream I’m having, of the poet
At midnight, in a fenced and parceled yard, the song
Of a new world bird, viewless, then awakening
In Los Angeles, the taste of those words still
On the lips, absurd at first, but only alone.
Something touched, then something told,
He is singing still in memory, a silent copy
Of the Real—but more: Awareness of
Absence that was there: the Self, the mocking-
Bird, Keats. What a majestic thing to
Know from the inside, to inhabit: From
The song the silence, from the silence the song.
As long as you are here, as long as you listen.
When the deeper shadows fade in the light
Of a quality only found in a Los Angeles dawn—
A power pole standing in simulacrum of a plum
Tree in England—then you can see him,
Beak wide, still at it, voice shifting shapes
Like a dreamer, or a daemon, sans segue.
The nights will pass and the days will pass,
And always there will be singing,
Endless variations without themes. . .
Or is it themes without variations, then?
Set in a shining city stuck in an eternal Spring
Ever-blooming. Each new generation awaiting
Its replacement. A new speaker of an old word,
Slightly different: I am the mouth of the river,
The breath of sound joining the currents
Of air; heard or unheard, the sound is bent
By the many-layered knowledge of my kind.
Heart beat and wing beat and line beat,
A song of praise flowing even in my very veins.
The thing that makes the word becomes the word,
And the word in turn becomes the thing—a
Cheat, perhaps. Then let’s let it be so, a lie
That implies an imperative, of belief.
Mockingbird, are you still listening?
A new song for your repertoire: An answer
Of sorts, or a turn. Cloud-colored bird,
This is your unknown echo, calling out,
Dying into silence, fading until forgotten,
The cry of hope, to never / ever awaken.