Quiscalus Quiscula by Barbara Crooker

On the lawn, the grackles spread their nightdark fans,
cluck softly to themselves. They are telling me,
“Get back to work.” They are telling me time
is rushing like a river, restless. They are saying
tomorrow may be too late. Their yellow eyes
glint like the clasp of a satin purse.
Consider then, these birds of the air.
Their heads shine in the sun,
an anti-iridescence. Their bodies are glazed
in bronze. They cluck their tongues in sorrow
for the world gone wrong, or what we’ve failed to do.
Is the purpose for their darkness to fly against
the dogwoods, remind us that night is always
bearing down? Time beats its blueblack wings,
elusive, hopping from branch to branch
in the sweet cerise of the flowering crab.
These grackles are angels of the Lord,
and we are just fooled by their robes of soot.
They speak in tongues; whole glossolalia rolls
out of their beaks. Their song is unmusical, industrial,
like a wrench on metal. They rise in a dark river,
fly past the redbuds next to the cherries, a small stream
of violets underneath, it’s over-the-top, the Fauvism
of spring. Maybe the blackbird’s song is an inexplicable
mystery, or as plain as black and blue:
Love whatever you can.

(Barbara Crooker)

A Flock of My Days by Ammons

A flock of my days
either gone already or to
come rises up
in a flurry and flies into
setting off
a maelstrom descent, whirlpool bloom
with a fine hollow stem figuring for a
bottomless source

in yesterday's dusk hickory,
a flicker black on skylight,
not a grackle but a
  robin! the behavior exact,
  year's first!
pecking his breast, grooming,
regarding the groundcover of 
snow unsharply
(but today the temp is to go
to 60, worm raising weather)

yesterday when melt was
commencing late
in the afternoon
one icicle with a fringehold
on the eaves
waved back and forth
as if hinged,
its hold become so light

but now this morning
the temperature nearing fifty
the eaves rain with
melt, rooftiles starting to show
radiance's darkness
(too much light on too much snow)

I guess the lady next door
when she had the elm thinned
from the thicket
didn't know
snow would cap a hemispheric cone
on the left stump

they say it took some days
for the cries in No Man's Land
to die down: first
  there was a noise
  of pain
  but a few dawns and dusks
  settled things
down to here and there
a filament of dissent
and then the dawn came wherein
the peace was incredible

                   (A.R. Ammons)

From the Book: Snow Poems

The City Limits by A.R. Ammons

When you consider the radiance, that it does not withhold
itself but pours its abundance without selection into every
nook and cranny not overhung or hidden; when you consider

that birds’ bones make no awful noise against the light but
lie low in the light as in a high testimony; when you consider
the radiance, that it will look into the guiltiest

swervings of the weaving heart and bear itself upon them,
not flinching into disguise or darkening; when you consider
the abundance of such resource as illuminates the glow-blue

bodies and gold-skeined wings of flies swarming the dumped
guts of a natural slaughter or the coil of shit and in no
way winces from its storms of generosity; when you consider

that air or vacuum, snow or shale, squid or wolf, rose or lichen,
each is accepted into as much light as it will take, then
the heart moves roomier, the man stands and looks about, the

leaf does not increase itself above the grass, and the dark
work of the deepest cells is of a tune with May bushes
and fear lit by the breadth of such calmly turns to praise.


From The Selected Poems by A.R. Ammons