Lets begin. A bird flies past the house. You can see it from the kitchen window. The weather is bad and so the bird, a raven, is sorrowful. When the bird flies out of sight, it is liberated. It no longer means sorrow.
All things are ultimately liberated. There is nowhere that they abide.
In the morning, I arm cleaned of the day before.
It is impossible to be unhappy under the nudity of sky.
Three sparrows in the driveway’s dust,
could mean what I want:
the heat of today carrying into the dusk.
I try very hard to make them into a sign,
but nothing adheres to birds quivering in the dirt.
It is said, during the Meiji era in Japan
birds meant something, specifically larks.
rich gentleman held competitions to see
which lark could reach the highest altitude.
Early morning, three swallows eject from the roof.
They are not in competition, but still how beautiful
to see the scimitar wing through a veil of mist.
All beings are ultimately liberated. There is nowhere that they abide. If you had a house last night, you don’t today; the morning makes it a nude space. You have to wake up and start living. By nighttime the house belongs to you again.
All birds are ultimately a language. Use this language to describe your mood. There is nowhere that the birds abide. If you felt sad last night, the robins taking a dust bath show you that the world becomes a different thing. Interpret the bird as a sign if you want. Or leave it there.
Everyday, different birds
complete the same gestures.
This season at least, the yellow of early spring,
the hawk is always appearing
He doesn’t have anything to say to me.
But I look up hawk gods anyway.
Suddenly, it’s Horus who keeps arriving.
According to my research, the hawk
is a naturally occurring tarot card.
If the wings are flattened and pulled from the deck,
they will mean temperance or something else.
A small boy waits for the bus across the road.
When the red-tailed hawk divides the land
between us, the boy and I exchange a salutation.
What, in the human realm, corresponds to a word? Some beings see birds in the same way, no matter the hour or color. Everyday you wake up and the house doesn’t exist. Then the first bird is heard or sighted. Suddenly, you have a body. You can start talking again. You can see the world around the bird begin to make sense.
When the bird pierces the cloud, it becomes the cloud. When it descends, it becomes the descent.
Something else about this season
is the gradual increase in chatter.
I can’t detangle a message
from the catbird’s ragged mewing.
Except there is no word for the sound.
When I stand in the middle of yard, a cacophony surrounds.
I don’t write what I hear, but I take it with me.
My friend composes a love song.
It is five minutes long.
In the morning, my love doesn’t exist
until I notice the sound of a bird, any bird, speaking.
But I know how it’s vibration looks
when it turns over and tunes
the first spring leaves.
You should know that even though all things are liberated and not tied to anything, they abide in their own phenomenal expression.
You should know that even though the bird is graceful, almost grace, it doesn’t care about your troubles. Take care of your own signs. Write a word. The bird has something to say about where it is going: southward or home. You are going someplace else.
A susurration is a soft murmur.
Murmuration, the act of murmuring,
not necessarily softly, is a starling flock
transforming like liquid metal in the sky.
the delicate sport. Over a hundred birds
whispered in a unison of wheels, turns,
but were still inaudible from my spot on the bridge.
Old English for swarm, the insubstantial
weight of a thousand hollow bones
interlocking is best described as an equation
of critical transitions – a system poised to tip.
with care, the cylinder can be used as a flute.
The sound emitted is almost silence.
Susurrus, the rustle of all blood simultaneously.
Abide in your own phenomenal expression; when you wake up, let the house occur to you. Don’t wait for birds to arrive. The meaning builds during the course of a day. By nightfall you can call the robin’s egg a name. But know that the name is your own; there is another name that belongs to the robin.
the diner overlooks the first of
the twin lakes. the distant lake is for swimmers.
the one visible over my breakfast,
is reserved for the birds.
Sometimes the hard, yellow mouth of a swan
pierces the center of a water cloud.
I see three ducks, a siege of herons, a lamentation of swans.
What is a group of birds, all various colors,
called when they congregate
in the center of a still body of water?
An illumination. This word reserved for birds.
at the beginning of a poem. Every time
a bird shifts a spot in the formation,
a different word appears to me– virtue, virgin, Venus.
Although you use the word “North” to describe the direction of the migrating birds, the birds do not actually go northward. In the same way, the direction of the cardinal into the window is called “collision.” It would be better to sleep all night and wake up having forgotten. Start fresh. The world of birds does not actually exist in terms of up, down, or the cardinal directions.
Dreaming of Darwin’s Galapagos finches,
I wake to a different kind of bird.
The cardinal, before it explodes against the window,
has for a moment, four wings.
the bird arrives. An examination of a blue egg,
shattered into hemoglobin and bile, reveals
that I do not know where the egg fell from.
Cloud-piercing, during the Meiji era,
ended with the birds shut
by men, back into ornate cages.
This was an attempt to restrain
Gray calligraphy across the mountains, sometimes small . . and red in the bushes – every time a bird moves across
a human eye, it is saying something. It says news.
A bird flies passed the house. The shades are drawn. A feeling of satisfaction at the end of a long day, but the bird is unseen. There is no place for your feeling to abide.
All things are ultimately liberated. There is nowhere that they abide.
Sometimes, the robin does not foretell spring.
The spring happens nonetheless.
Sometimes, there is an absence of song.
The bird hides itself in the rushes. The world closes its mouth.
suddenly, news arrives.
First, soft dust unsettles the pine needles.
Then the bluebird tu-a-wee tu-a-wee tu-a-wee.
Unlike a meteor sighting, the birds arrive
everyday and are unsuspicious.
A murder of crows, mowing the backyard,
does not indicate how close the thunder is.
I stay inside and let the wings
wash blindly against the windows.
When a bluebird passes, I close my eyes.
Ultimately a language is liberated. It falls apart when the birds reappear. If you felt sad last night, it has nothing to do with the robins taking a dust bath. The house, meaningless in the morning, begins to build its own phenomenal expression. Interpret the bird as a sign if you want. The sign does not abide. It does not adhere.
Your belief in spontaneous language is heretical. The bird does appear in the sky. It has arrived in the center of your eye from someplace else.
Every day passing the old hotel, I notice
a figurehead swan hoisted in front
of the attic window: curled pearl against
the flaked turquoise exterior.
moans from its nest inside the figurehead swan.
I look up purple-breast fruit dove in a field guide.
On the page, nothing but a few words. No bird.
When I try to make sense, I pin a bird
to a flat board. It explodes very slowly, feathers puff
into dust to reveal a keeled sternum.
Is this the precise musculature of flight?
will not adhere to the skeleton. Hollow chuckle
as the wishbone falls to the floor, breaks apart
to reveal nothing but dust, no sign of a wish.
When most human beings see birds they only see that that they fly, groom, make songs unceasingly. This is a limited human view; there is a phenomenal expression of the bird and it does not occur in our language.
The cardinal directions do not adhere to the bird’s destination.
Not a sign, but how beautiful
to see the egg tooth through an embryonic veil.
The murmur of wings, still newly wet, touches
oxygen, feels where it will go.
still seems young enough to grow up
as its mute feathers shiver
in the tall grasses.
Every method of speaking seems
important: grooming, killing prey,
song-making, fighting, probing for food, courtship,
feeding the young. Yet how mistaken I am
The water-thrush does not belong to me.
It is only the harbinger of its own direction.
You should remain bewildered by the birds that appear slowly. Each bird represents a different movement in the season. However, the birds do not adhere to seasons. Seasons are a phenomenal aspect of the human realm. You may think that while you sleep the world erases everything but the birds. The whole of yesterday becomes concentrated in the blue skin of the robin’s egg.
It is not that there are birds in the world. There are birds. Then there is a world.
The heron, majestic as the weather’s hand,
points towards the water it will land on.
This water is invisible from the porch.
It is water I cannot drink from.
in the house. It shakes the floors back into dust.
A swallow readjust in the roofing.
Unseen, the symptoms of its movement
are the gradual intensifying of colors
and the feeling of waking up.
Three sparrows outside the house
could be the sign of my desire.
A bird flies out of my eye.
While seen, it has briefly been a word. After
disappearing, nothing abides; there is an absent song.
Seeing the bird as a sign is the activity of foolish people. Set words and phrases are not the words of liberation. There is something free from all these understandings. A bird flies passed the window. The hawk lands on the fence. Three sparrows curved heads in the dust. You should study this in detail.
Then abide by nothing. Then leave it there. Then wake up. The house is a nude space. The floors are clean. There is no sound or song. Even though the windows are open, the sky holds nothing. There is this world for us. Then there is another. There is a lake, a realm beyond this one. That world has a word. That word is reserved for birds.