blackbird online journal Spring 2008  Vol. 7  No. 1



How to Lure a Lizard into a Bird Feeder

1. New House
Across the way, someone’s reached his vertical limit:
he slots trestles recalling the delicate arms of your species
into a house they seem to hold up.
Sometimes he syncopates hands and mouth
to loose shivers of sound. Or stares over
where you’ve paused at the other unfinished
work of the day, a suspended glass silo
(six ways in) enclosed by wire. This sleeps
on a string, white seeds packed and waiting.

2. Map Quest
And who wouldn’t welcome some changes?
Look up. Today’s congeries of cloud trail,
if anything, failures of imagination:
days wasted like stamps, corners we didn’t step past
with the children, crescendoing moments
when we were sure of our beauty.
And because these are already outside and beyond us,
being the past, they map a town by now
oddly unfamiliar as well, a grid
of larger failures still offering themselves
as bravura choices in four directions.
Simply to go in, for once, to step from the grid
to what’s beneath it, transparent as this underworld
may be and as uncertain of purchase,
would be to invite the usual hammer blows of disaster
and could never really be part of the job
which is (so far) to angle trestles correctly
and without falling, without (in the words
of  the architect), “seeing the whole picture.”

3. Audio
And it’s noisy by any standard here.
A red work truck prods via radio:
“And what would you do if your wife was standing
buck naked in the doorway and she said….”
Despite the clatter, a mere twenty years
(three generations of your kind?)
could see this scene whisked back to scrub palm
and potato vine, a progression so sure-footed
that even as the roof’s last piece clamps down,
even as tar paper rolls deliciously over
the whole structure (our man’s been exchanged
for one with a blue cap) roots tendril through.
Soon, jungle in the almost forgotten shape of  a house
which will house, then, what? Lizards,
certainly, and cats (it’s not a world without danger),
but also creatures who may be compendia of those
we know: bees with butterfly wings, say,
or a dog whose legs reach as far as a horse’s.
What will the streets sound like then?

4. The Third Man
Last night, when the moon was so full of itself,
I wondered why there weren’t skylights
for the house to look up through as the moon
looks down.  But what’s moon to a lizard,
you who keep hunger always before you
and don’t nest, the story runs, but hunt
all night from shifting skylight to skylight?
Today’s machines return only to grumble,
still dropping nothing. By now the crane
has become an automatic ladder shifting
identical packages of shingles upward
to the new man (or is it a third? this one’s shirtless).
These he collects and stacks at the roof’s highest point—
where it bends, not unpleasingly, like a gray wing
or a novel read to its midmost seduction
and left, for a moment, face down.

5. Break Time
The Lizard Hour.
It’s strange how quickly one falls out of the habit
of saying things like that during days
which seem productive yet hold more sorrow
than city planners care to acknowledge.
Item: we grew so angry our words knotted air.
Silence, then, like another hard stump—
not so easy to roll the machinery back over this,
though we made every effort. Or seemed to.
Now I think it was all a diversion, the way,
after years of absentee owners, the green tangle
we thought a justifiable extension of our view
became a diversion from a more intimate one.
But even the roofers don’t really look in,
though they turn this way often,
as any creature might turn toward movement
in a window like the window
the bird feeder now sleepily dangles outside of.

6. And Now Even
I’m feeling drowsy:
it’s quieter than it’s been and, if anything,
a little colder. In a seemingly customary feat,
our man’s vanished after pulling his T-shirt
back over his head without removing his cap.
Somewhere ships toil past the equator.
Somewhere a book floats its protagonists
within pages of the bench they’ll finally kiss on.
If asked to keep something from your climb,
Lizard, would it be this telescoping light
dimming everything at its edges
or the spine of a roof along which shingles
lie stacked like the start of another low wall?
But enough. Permits have been nailed to the beams,
and where the feeder will swing, soon,
like the clapper of an invisible bell,
seeds are already fringing like princesses.
Who could drop off for even a minute?
There’s no sun like the present. 
So count the whole neighborhood in, friend:
play Prince in a Thicket with twenty green fingers.  

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