Terms and Conditions Apply
The evening’s winding down
and for hours now the passerines
have been out of their trees,
perhaps some global event
has added to their miniseries,
or possibly just a cat,
possibly the retort
of a rambunctious muffler,
or was that the neighbor’s child upstairs
maligning the piano,
at any rate something ominous
at least in some of us,
or simply the simple
sight of us, of every one of us.
Picks up the purple glass, takes a sip,
then sets it down again, then looks at it.
It wasn’t purple. It was a clear glass
but tinted from the light that shined through
the evening windows. And even then,
it wasn’t purple, not even a hope
for purple as much as it may have had
a violent dream. Not sure what it was,
but it was a glass full of water. And
not full, either. And only a glass
as long as its molecules hung together,
content with their susurrations, and
their principles, the errant charge to
contain the flood heedless of any hue,
of any cry, (you knew that was coming)
unperturbed by any styrofoam incursion,
neither fazed by your wan antipathy
to the motley antics of the sun.
In late spring this hinge
of red began to sing
from his perch within
our pine, a squatter
I’d call him
if he did not sing so eloquently,
of what I can’t even fathom,
so hermetic not even the erudite
squirrels had a clue, possibly
(given his plumage) nothing
more than “I’m brighter than you.”
All in a Day’s Meals
whatsoever parteth the hoof,…and cheweth the cud
Hats he steals
from the best haberdasher;
I see him do it,
and know him a thief.
Cats he kills
because they eat mice, birds
for their worms.
His special meat is men,
working in twos, in trees.
A Legacy, after Avercamp
And then we come in, late to the party:
A child, yet alive, crosses the bridge
between solitude and communion to
meet his father, returning home. Next door
a bucket dips, draws water from a stone.
Despite the crowded winter ice, a fallen
skater sprawls, alone. The quail? Well, they’re
above it all. The buildings have little to say;
like us they follow protocol. You’ll want
to tell me this is not what the present
tense is for but I’m not so certain.
Is the present no more than what’s been left
to us, a passing wave, a plane’s contrail, harangues
and exhalations of entangled whales?
Birds on Parole
When a song comes into their heads,
passerines have the good sense
to just chirp it away, get it out,
be done with it. Henry lies poised
on the window sill, enraptured, and,
even though he’s just eaten, ravenous.
Could writers wish for more,
faced with the slack-jawed
awe of their audience,
spooling out a villanelle
that’s taken months to build,
their gaze resting on readers
without claws, stomachs filled?
Bruce Robinson has published poetry and fiction in Tar River, Spoon River, Fiction, Maintenant, Loud Coffee Press, and Rattle. He is a graduate of Johns Hopkins and is working on his first chapbook.