It’s not that hard to write a poem, what’s hard
is to write a really good poem. You have to
translate the undulates. To render, glean.
To peck at them. To fail. The only way
is to care enough, open wide enough. Begin again—
the shadows in the foreground now, the basking day,
the terrors clustered in the undergrowth—to reach
a hand in there. Utter task. Gnawing at the bone.
To rearrange—and be disordered. Limbs askew now.
Askance. Asking for stance. Closer to meaning
without making too plain—as nature does,
in shadows, dealing her hand. To imitate
her coy artlessness. To falter. What nature does in seasons
to do on the page. Continual dressing and redressing,
dishabille. Putting on the shadows now.
The garments of the day—flowers, flutter.
What nature riddles between leaves,
lavish. How the sky presents a blank face, then
glowers, hunches over with clouds. And birds—
what they do.
I sat on the hillside
watching the warm bright day
the underbrush, heard
cawing, two landing
in the high tree tops
then flying on,
the omen gone before,
Sitting on the porch
a few days later, sensing
the tops of the pines,
a circling messenger. Still
i manage to doubt
these bright black omens,
the hills, the stones.
A thought came:
it would emerge from there—
icy black overhead
and just after
a hawk circled above
to give a broader view.
Sitting again, another day,
i hear crows
behind me shockingly close—
three bright black shiny,
landing circling landing.
Then heading into town
one hops out
by the side of the road.
If i watch carefully, patiently,
something will give me
guidance, messenger bird,
flying in a line
out in front of me
in the blue October sky.
Mire of feelings
seek flight and ask:
If this is a sign,
let one come perch.
They fly directly
in my line of sight.
Two days later
i look again
for the road unmistakable
yet somehow lost
in these black vanishings,
the dark light of crow.
this neighborhood is an island
with its perpendicular ethics
sparrows searching the molecules
with a lyric patience
sometimes you have to be
deft not out of any sense of cunning
there simply isn’t enough
oxygen to go around
i find myself entranced at the corner
of liberty and main one knee up
on the wavelength of the particular
digesting photographs for breakfast
but the past is a madman at the roadside
breadcrumbs strewn in the margins
each eulogy is carved from the human throat
trying to touch the curvature
of origin and ecstasy
coming up short
every poem is fathered and abandoned
or fathers and abandons
while history scavenges
at the window ledge
two finches hover at the bird feeder like last leaves
on a branch last of the hysteria of finches
crowding the feeder for weeks
splashing in the birdbath
hiding in the white roses
that trail the old wood fence
two hummingbirds chase each other
dazzling flashes of iridescent green and ruby
two goldfish swim in the fountain
one bluejay drinks at the rim
a brown rat pokes an eager face out
of a hole in the garden fence
the grey cat watches keenly
these goings-on of the animal kingdom
only it’s not a kingdom
complex hierarchies a finely knit web
but no singular king nor congress
passing resolutions though all are subject
to the same immutable laws
no jockeying for power just
small territorial skirmishes lusts
no dreams of mass conquest unseemly
hoarding though the squirrels
pile acorns in stashes
the wind moving the trees is calmer still
without war entirely
without objection or regret
the bright leaves wave the wind chime resounds
long branches of the mulberry sway up and down
nearly kissing the ground
Maxima Kahn lives in the Sierra Nevada in California. Her poetry and essays have appeared in Citron Review, Sweet, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, Poem, Borderlands, Wisconsin Review and Spillway, among others. She has twice been nominated for Best of the Net and was a finalist for the Atlanta Review poetry contest. She has taught creative writing at the University of California, Davis extension and privately. Now she blogs about creativity and soulful living and teaches artists and dreamers how to unlock their creativity and live passionately at BrilliantPlayground.com. You can follow her creations and creative process at Patreon.com/maximakahn.