Saturday, September 13, 2014

Hugh Behm-Steinberg

Nicasio Scrub Jays

The air is a child so we shove her on the bus to kindergarten

but none of the teachers can see her so she gets marked absent.

We get a call, we always get these calls, your kid’s stuck in a tree look at
those branches waving and waving; we think the jays don’t know what to do.

So we homeschool the air, we talk in a more systematic way, we point and explain
and when we don’t know we say we don’t know and ask your sister and she laughs.

Because scrub jays are often mistaken for blue jays, because we aren’t sure if they’re one
species or three. Standing on the back of a mule deer. They’re picking off and eating ticks.

The deer seem to appreciate the help, often standing still and holding up their ears to give
the jays access. They will even eat peanuts out of our daughters’ hands.

Because the air’s always climbing out a window to play in the garden the milkweed
bends down and the monarchs swirl around her we have no idea how much

our daughters listen to us, the air and her older sister, so we run out of words
and when we have no words left the wind begins to blow. Look up the answers

in the Encyclopedia Britannica he says. Each afternoon brightens. The wind
is plain and soft spoken but our daughter loves him he’s her first crush.

The wind has such sexy hair our daughter the air says matter of factly testing our boundaries.
It’ll happen no matter how hard we try to stop it, just as scrub jays wake us in the morning with their shouting.


Elegant Trogons

Resisting vanity, they are occasionally found as vagrants in southeasternmost and western Texas.
Likewise don’t live so long or prepare your spells. I asked Mary if she could choose between

a short healthy life or a long one where your body fucks you up, she said I would choose this
body because as long as I’m in it I get to be with you. I’m not scared of living or dying.

Birds flutter in my arms and my arms flutter as I flap the birds out of them. Although their flight
is fast, they are reluctant to fly any distance. They perch upright and motionless.

Related to mousebirds and owls, with soft feathers, known for taking small bites out of trees
but preferring to nest in abandoned woodpecker holes. Each leaf is hissing

good years, sad and good years, good and happy years, years and years spent in everspending
bodies, as parts of trees they know what they’re talking about but to have a metallic green head!

To have a black face and throat, a red-orange lower breast and belly. Grey upperwing coverts.
So I just have to show up and I’ll do just fine. Mary pokes me, you still have to work it babe.

But my toes are unique you get dizzy just thinking how they got so backwards. I put words
in the elegant trogon’s mouth and he goes co-ah, co-ah, co-ah I’m between bodies co-ah

Acknowledgment is sexy the musicians tell one another, the birds say it’s call and response.
You’re working in the yard and you think how cool it would be to see a quetzal this far north.

I’m eating small insects and fruit; I laugh for years and years, I’m of least concern,
I’m an adult now, I don’t eroticize our suffering.



are extinct. to sing short lines we don’t know what they sang they’re extinct.
to be less sure or be brighter and beloved by others we don’t know they’re extinct.

they were red birds that preferred to eat unripe fruit but they’re extinct.
they lived around and fed upon the seeds and flowers of the loʻulu palms, which are endangered so they’re extinct.

its niche has been filled by lavender waxbills, scraped layers of againness, they’re extinct.
the fossil record, its neverness, they don’t fly away they’re extinct.

adults were patterned red overall, their heads, throats, upper backs were silvery gray one was seen in 1937 but they’re extinct.
the crowns, wings, breasts, shoulders, tails were black, and the tertials white they’re extinct.

only known from five specimens, at Harvard, Honolulu, New York and Tring, a possible sight record tell me I’m forgiveable they’re extinct.
we don’t know their songs they vanished before we had the tools to record them they’re extinct.

to remain is deplorable. to remain is to be dispossessed. to be absent is an abstraction but they’re extinct.
their not songs, their no longers, the way you skim over the repetitions you’re so forgiveable and they’re extinct.


Zone-tailed Hawks

I’m not the end of things, but I live with vultures. Maybe I will want nothing when nothing’s left.
Wings point slightly upward, calmly, I mean isn’t it boring to keep weeping, and you always say no

not when you’re in it, not when it’s fair. No tears, the steep cliff. I’d like to consume less and
be swallowed more. All the smallnesses know they’re safe while I’m circling because a successful beauty is communal

And I am an awesomeness I strike death I tear nestlings and fledgings I devour the pieces I predate time itself.
I’m the start of all cycles I take my time in the sky and the sky lifts me casually I am its wristwatch.

The most beautiful dry earth, the least upon this earth.
No one knows how long we live. To be a radical practice.


No comments:

Post a Comment