Summer 2008, #15
       "Convenient Acts of Human Behavior"

Three Poems

     by F. Daniel Rzicznek

Doctor of Maps

One version scrawled at dusk
on the sky's surrounding edge

has the wounded hawk slipping
whole again from the yard,
a scar of grass sealing the soil,
the streetlights shaping a pool

for the wing's shadow to begin
and the only noise I know
while kneeling there in the scene

(bird half awake, my eyes
a force averted into dirt)

is a car's grey laughter
and the low crackle of tires like fire
chewing paper. I would mention
details from the flowerbedó

I would say the petals
could last a week into winter
if this version would allow me
a task other than the hawk
and its birth from the lawn,

the low roar of earth giving
out with a shiver through street,
town, country, and continent.

I am called away to the place
where I already am, the hawk
granting me one slack thought:

the tall chimney, the way
the smoke gathers, slithers back in.


To cure:
let ache turn your sight
in circles. Let

a ghost through that door.

The speck of vatic dust runs
blind to leaves

that kneel, bask yellow.

Let that late soul the ghost
enter and enter:

the spirals of fish

through which the sea's air
is every second resurrected.

Mountain Gossip

A few salmon still run the streams downward in late summer, luminous as the babble arrayed around them. The trees swell upward: mostly pines, the odd oak, stray maple. I've withheld the stars and the cabin smoke that wheels the air red in your nostrils. I've worried over the jays and doves for so long the very notions of them have worn smooth as thunder and each suspension of my breath alludes to the black bears that trounce the trash barrels open and dawdle near the cold ashes of the firepit until dawn. My muttering is the damp mouth of the mountain that widens inch by inch every winter and over that ridge, a strange congress of hawks wreaths the air once every autumn. Even the salamander is part fact, part truth, nestled in the mud beneath articulation. The stories we retell until threadbare are exactly the deer who feed and rest in the blaze of afternoon, but otherwise leap off, through the meshwork of fog and leaf, always a new color of silence in their wake.