I remember its strange and mournful song.
The blackbird sang its way into my heart.

I mean to say it’s serious,
the way a wild note can carry me away,

like an old stallion returning to the plains,
reclaiming its soul as only the utterly wild can.

It is the same on the river.
The sound of the water runs deep in my bones,

carries me away, carries me to the sea where life
first gained a foothold, deep, where the water boils.

Ah but science is a different kind of poetry. I am
not writing another “wonders of the world” poem.

To paraphrase John Prine, I’m just trying to be
“naked as the eyes of a clown.”

I wake up at 3 or 4am because pain trumps sleep.
The first priority is getting high enough.

Pain puts an edge on awareness. I need to dull that edge.
Open a window in January,

listen to the sound of bitter cold – nothing.
I need a red-winged blackbird to carry me away.

Once I saw an angel gliding in from the west,
her black hair swept back from her face,

the sheer white robe, deep brown skin,
beads of sweat hung like a rosary around her neck.

I fell in love with an apparition, a diamond.
She filled the night with her red-hot touch.

She’s gone now. Still I feel her.
When the blackbirds murmur and rain falls

I remember the tears in my black haired angel’s eyes.
I’ll never come closer to writing a true love poem.

Now I feel like the Crocodile Man.
Having lost my taste for chicken I was abandoned by

the carnival bosses near Junction City, GA.
Oh Lord, have mercy on the Crocodile Man!

It’s Christmas dinner at the Chinese buffet.
Peking duck, egg rolls, lo mein.

I ordered authentic Szechuan noodles from the menu.
They brought the evening into focus.

My life was a shambles but the people of Junction City
were friendly, even to a man with crocodile skin.

There’s something about this skin,
it was once armor protecting me from strangers.

Now it insulates me.
I remain alien, always the expatriate.

I find it curious how the absence of birdsong in winter
carries me along these strange paths.

Poor vision has always clouded my life with tension,
the pull between what I am in the moment

and what I would be otherwise if choice
wasn’t merely a fancy, or a lie we tell the kids.

But then what is birdsong but a lie I tell myself
against the silence of bitter cold air.

My angel is gone.
I still have a splinter from her wooden wing.

It reminds me that pain is a kind of awareness.
It is also a link between the beginning and the end.

I yearn for the wild days on the desert plains.
Learning to collect rainwater and make fire in the wind,

witness the beginning of words, music,
the awakening that gave us life painted on a cave wall.

I have written about that beginning in other poems.
Now I am thinking about birdsong during the long winter silence.

Now I am remembering an angel with black hair and brown skin
circling my campfire on heavy wooden wings.