“CHASING THE RED BIRDS”

Every morning, the dreams of my father peck on me like the high-wire cardinal
tattooing demands for me into telephone poles. But I do not know this Morse code.
Is it asking me for help? Asking me to come home? Or is it telling me that I am the one
who needs help?
The bright red S.O.S. soars somewhere in the distance until it is black and beating into nothing.

Junkyard kitties all crawl out from teeny black holes to purr up-and-down my yellow bones.
They know I cannot move. The kitties know I am no threat, but they threaten—
gnawing loving little kisses to pinprick my flesh. Their long pink tongues lapping me up,
separating my soul from something the soul invented long ago; Just my body;
Just skin and bones to nibble upon until my worries, like the kitties, have all gone away—
to lick somebody else— or to give hunt to my little red birds before my stories transmit.

Jesse’s spent penny rises in the sky. It is time to wake up to go to work, to drink coffee—
to go to work, to make money to go to work. It is all done for my body of work, you see.
But the body is still dreaming, getting lapped up by the kitties. I am somewhere else,
following every red bird I spot in the alley, out my windows, pecking on garbage can lids.
I will chase every red dribble until each stops their pecking; Begging for my revisions.

But the end does not come. And today, my cardinals make the sounds of 2,008 Beijing drummers,
squawking for my attention and beating for my potential. I have not lived up to this
for quite a while. I doubt today will be any different, but I will take a shower now and get dressed.
You never know. I might shut one up today and receive the quiet I need for a good night of sleep.
But the kitties will be restless— and I will once again fear for the safety of my red birds’ beating.
In a way, their noise might be all I have left to share with this world;
My S.O.S. pecked out into scars on a heart.

narrative poem written on 12-06-2010 by: on mattkane.com
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