No More Birds
No more branches, no more moon, no more
clouds, light glinting on
no more water. Refuse to sing because
the song is stuffed and birds
they lilt and carol wordlessly of what, of whose
turn it is to bird and bird and bird
the same translations as assigned.
Whose turn is it to open-throated sing?
And what world’s turn is it
to be sung of, a thing made noticed
that isn’t, its beauty insisted. Who called again
to say what’s ugly? Who pointed
from the other side of town, and which
frayed hem of a chainlink fence
did they mean. Did they mean
to suggest or outright say
is distinctly unbeautiful. This face?
The hand that cups it
or refuses to? The bodies
we inherited and tried to slip out of by pressing
pressing them together
together into finest dust? In which these little
dun intelligences do chip and flit. Do we, ought we
to care? For one another, yes.
Come here and crouch with me
at the unremarkable front stoop
of this medium-sized aspen tree
on an unnamed side of town.
Listen to their chattering or shrill world-songs
about our plastics and forgetfulness and bombs,
bombs of much unnumbered rubble, bombs of the reasonable
fear of bombs, dividing the living
from the living, towns from towns, constant speaking
or lip-synching with feathers
over the sound of the erosion of
whose turn it is to listen. Listen,
time to quiet down, beauty. Time to world.
"No More Birds" from Anybody: Poems by Ari Banias. Copyright © 2016 by Ari Banias. Used by permission of W. W. Norton & Company.
Ari Banias is the author of Anybody (W. W. Norton, 2016). He lives in Berkeley, California.
Date Published: 2016-10-17
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/no-more-birds