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Poetry by Charles Weld, Michael Ruby, and Simon Perchik

Louis Fuertes’ Sharp-Shinned Hawk

Fuertes told his students, “Start with the deepest darks,
and paint the rest of the bird from these first marks.

This one, he’d have begun with the tips of its primaries.
They sweep back in the steep stoop that often begins
a sharp-shinned’s drop upon its prey. One pins
a starling in our backyard snow. Smaller birds, it carries
away. Nape, mantle, and back are a wash of cobalts
and gray, almost the colors of our street’s asphalt,
the same patches, plateaus, plains stained by road salt,
the lines of tar that caulk blacktop’s fissures and faults.
“Black in full sun isn’t black, but gray with parts of green
or blue,” taught Fuertes. Recognizing what’s never been
seen, how Diebenkorn described the practice of painting,
is hawks’ work too. This one perches, alert and waiting.

A Brown Bird Singing
    —For Maxine Sullivan

All through the night in the house of tomorrow
There’s a little brown page waiting
bird of ice
singing Lou
Singing in the hush a memory
final marriage of the darkness and the dew
Singing in the hush the soiled elbows
foiled plot of the darkness and the dew

Would that his song scattered the leaves
the pressure point through the stillness
the wide river could go winging
the close sky could go a-winging
to you the loose bouquet
to you shoemaker

All through the nighttime the bright month
My lonely heart my halogen lamp
the young thing is singing

Sweeter songs of love live in the basket
better blocks than the brown bird ever knew

Sweeter songs of love leave the citadel
colder dice than the brown bird ever knew

In the Good Old Summer Time
    —For Mary Ford

In the good old lemon elegance
Megalomaniacal summer time
In the good old elastic blueprints
Soft real estate this summer time
Strolling through Tory bottomland
Morgan melted the shady
And dice prolong the lane
With seasoned eaglets
Mexican blues your baby
Mandarin professionals mine
You hold premium soda
Heartless tupelos plagued her hand
Press plastic and she
Belted ice monster holds yours
And that’s a precious peace sign
Diamond horseshoes a very good sign
That she’s red sugar
Almonds mask your tootsie wootsie
In the good old placement soup
Solomonic summer time

In the good old plastic gasoline
Pell-mell summer time
In the good old purple machines
Mascara opens summer time
Strolling through lefthanded force fields
Toys rising the shady
Peaceable development lane
With primetime parking lot
Heavenly silver your baby
Seasoned eaglets mine
You hold plastic Rangoons
Precious membrane her hand
Sincerity breathes and she
Meaty begonias hold yours
And that’s parallel sauce
Leather orifices a very good sign
That she’s omnivorous eelgrass
Monstrous pie your tootsie wootsie
In the good old oily fractures
Whales talkin’ through summer time

In the good old sordid ether
Position holograms for summer time
In the good old monster factory
Makeup performs through summer time
Strolling through ambulance regions
Pinecones polish the shady
Lampblack neglect the lane
With telltale megalomania
Mesmerizing blue your baby
Elevated feathers mine
You hold purple plastic boys
Leather salvation her hand
Devilish soybeans and she
Household plastic hold yours
And that’s somatic ice
Breathing eagles a very good sign
That she’s boiling blue bananas
Morganatic toothaches your tootsie wootsie
In the good old mama petunias
Onyx eagles through summer time


Struck from behind and the Earth
as if you could get away with it
—in the dark this yard

half slush, half mist, thickening
not yet another moon
though the dirt you skimmed off

has lost its hold, lifts
and from the shadow it drained
to make a second sky

only you don’t have an alibi
—you were there—on that night
—beside this stone—plead loneliness

throw both hands into the air
—you’ve got the chance, now! dig
faster, this stone, another

the way each mountain range
can recognize itself in the marsh
in the smoking grass and river beds

—plead emptiness, say
you were building a dam, say
guilty! and fold your arms.


The glaze from your stone
shelters this sink, carved
by its constant drip

for shoreline and more foam
—twice every day
I shave to make room

though my beard
never has a chance
trembling in graveyard grass

—I begin each morning
then again by going home
to mow, barely holding on

though each cheek
half blood, half
wandering alone

weighs almost nothing
except for the splash
that clings to your name.


Even the dying wince, their stench
makes you gag—you can’t ask
must rely on their skin
and its yellowing glaze
with just enough sunlight left
for directions back

—they languish at night
looking for what must be
those tiny rocks mourners leave
as if the dead could still
find refuge in a few simple words

placed near—the dying need this doubt
to go further, not sure why
their eyes once had such power
and now can’t open to demand

where to make a boundary line
that’s safe once inside
with all those stars, far off
not yet arrived
as still warm dirt and mornings.

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