Thursday, January 26, 2012

Raintown #5

2 empty hopper bird feeders dangling
from bare limbs on N. Mason—2 broken
concrete blocks out of kilter cast down be-

side a trailer—it devastates me not to
know the trees’ names—black gnarled
limbs out of whack yet budding blood-

red in January—black crow leaning in-
to its caw from a power line—my shortness of
breath, breathing thru pursed lips ex-

haling trapped air— alveoli col-
lapsed—2 pink flamingoes skewer a
lawn past the deadheaded roses—a second

crow swoops down on the blacktop—chest
rale as if someone mumbles walking just a
few steps back—on a concrete block

wall on N. Vancouver Ave in careful white
paint: tonight I can write the saddest of all
—disturbing not to hear sparrows in

red willows become unadulterated
melody—as if someone walked a few steps back:
our death unswerving comrade

Jack Hayes
© 2012


  1. It feels like life is also an "unswerving comrade," but with a distance thrown up between the speaker and that life - the names of trees that aren't known, the names of birds that are known but are still mysterious and magnificent in their ways (and some of them like the flamingos, not even alive). No time to learn about all of it, or know or understand it all. A life measured out in short breaths.

    I love that line about the "black crow leaning in-to its caw from a power line" and being disturbed that the sparrows become "unadulterated melody." These poems are so beautiful.

  2. The Hayes soundtrack, which I've noticed as absent from the first four Raintown poems, has returned, and to tremendous effect.Not just the mentioned sounds of the crow and the chest rales - an external and an internal accompaniment - but the missing, missed, sounds of the sparrows, and the projected sound of someone's footsteps behind. There is the black/ whack clack in the first two verses, and a plethora of B sounds, physically constricting the reader's breath in preparation for those collapsed alveoli, and everything getting much quieter as we listen for the footsteps behind us. I love this series.

  3. That "Ave" jumped out at me, not as the short-form of Avenue, but as in "Ave" Maria.
    You're taking MY breath away with this!

    The last line is, what's the word? Slammin'! (I looked that up on the Urban Dictionary, and coincidentally, along with meaning "very good", it means to inject a drug intravenously.)

  4. Hi HKatz, Mairi & Kat

    HKatz: Thanks so much for such a fine, close reading--that is truly something to value in readers, & I do very much. Yes, I like your comment about life being an unswerving comrade as well. Thanks so much!

    Mairi: Yes, we had to get the soundtrack going, eh? Thanks for everything you've gleaned from the poem--you are also an extraordinary reader & I value what you bring to poems so very much in that regard. Your appreciation of & support for this series means a lot--thanks!

    Kat: Now I hadn't thought of that one! But thanks. You are also a gifted reader & your interest in the "Raintown" series is really gratifying. & glad you found the last line "slammin'" I think that other meaning must have come around since my misguided youth. Thanks!

  5. Ah, I should have clarified my idea. It's often hard to translate what whips through my mind.
    I was thinking of the second definition with respect to transfusions and the like.


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