My brother, wanting to off himself,
Took rope into a summer park.
Rope, plus a knife
For cutting it: a serrated hawkbill,
Cushioned grip, with two-inch
Curved, ignoble blade
The manufacturers in their cruelty call
A lightweight
Meadowlark. Cruel because the meadowlark
Is calm. They’re calm
This morning. Sure, they shaggle the corn a bit,
But otherwise, when they’re done,
They perch on the fence in the golden sun,
Heads down as if they’re sleeping.

Copyright © 2019 by David J. Daniels. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 4, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“‘Meadowlark' is atypical of my work: my poetry often rhymes or employs strict metrical forms and syllabics. There are lingering hints here of earlier drafts ('park' / 'Meadowlark,' 'done' / 'sun'), but something about the content drove me against my usual tendencies to control and fashion things so carefully. In the end, I'm glad that the poem remains primarily about language, that it hinges on a single, fragile word, bearing the name of a bird and a weapon. And my brother (very much still alive, thankfully) told me he loves the poem."
—David J. Daniels