Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Dove Wings in the Trash Bin

We found a dove standing behind some yucca, shriveled, starved.
His blah eyes showed little life, only the last three dry kernels on a corncob.
I try to imagine hunger: the blurry world is a jerking, swirling dream
and my head goes thud-thud-thud while I double up as a wrathful belly orders
Food. No, I can't guess. Thank God we had our shotguns. You need a lot of faith
to look at something soft your hand enfolds that is hungry and can't fly.

The boy that can't walk reminded me of the bird that couldn't fly.
He was born too young, so the doctors advised, Let him starve.
But his parents loved him, and they'd professed the faith;
They said, It's not a crime to be no bigger than a corncob.
The doctors' wooden faces meant they wouldn't give the help that was in order
Yet his parents knew killing their son wouldn't kill the dream.

I wonder if he walks in his dreams.
In mine I run and fight and fly.
A guy does what he wants like giving the waitress his order
or getting into high school, I always figured, and won't starve.
It's an empty word. But here the exams mock my friends' brains as corncobs.
Will I still call not bragging "humility" when I test with no need for faith?

...and call giving thanks without gratefulness "faith"?
Only words...the time when waking was dreaming,
though hoary heads all around me were alive then. They lived on corncobs.
Sometimes sparse yellow teeth guillotined the squirming, muddy larva of a dragonfly
Stomachs that rejected bugs and wood could only starve.
Vegetables and meat were only for the man who gave the crippling order.

There's a man here whose words come out in any order
He says he's the one who gave the command. He says so with faith.
He comes often to our house—being shunned has left him starved:
no one wants to be around a thing that lives a dream,
stinking, with clothes never free from flies.
He had a good job, but then his brain became a corncob.

There's the boy, with his gun, harmless as a corncob.
He sits on his car and shoots each of us in order.
His cousin, evading invisible bullets with giggles, flies
right by him, like a swallow. I have faith
that she doesn't understand, not even when she dreams,
and that she hasn't any idea she's watching him starve.

Father, smile at him by injecting him with faith wilder than any dream
to keep him from starving for joy and counting himself a corncob
I sign your Son's name to my words: order him to walk—so his heart will fly.

2 comments:

Muni Beduhin said...

I had heard that a sestina was a hard form, but in my haughtiness I thought it would be no problem for me. As you can see, though, the result was somewhat iffy.

F.B. said...

Sestinas are good mind-bending exercises, that's for sure. But I do like the rhythm of the repeated words and the pull between line and sentence that the noun/verb switches allow.