Pluck them out of their natural habitat
and they die. That’s the general rule for things
that crawl, things that stick to the dank cave wall,
things that breathe, things that purchase insurance. An air
can be what we die when we don’t have enough
of it in our lungs, or a piece of music
or, spelled otherwise, somebody
biding his time, waiting for a throne.
Somebody is going to have to die
before he gets to sit there, which is why
one ought always keep one’s blade well-oiled
and sleep with the window open. So the son
and heir feels the sun in his hair and sits
with his back to the wall. The last remaining
passenger pigeon was spotted this morning
pickpocketing crumbs on a patio table
at Nordstrom’s. Gone are the days when it would perch
on its own dedicated link of the Great Chain
of Being and calmly survey the agonizing
decline of the century of Marx and Darwin.
As for me, I like to wait just as long as I can
before slicing the envelope open, then savor
the delicious resignation of the cream-white paper
relinquishing its secrets. You get angry at people
when they die, they take a part of you with them.
Stop that! we all want to snap at a funeral.
At least we got to put on our nicest suits
and gather around a fresh hole in the ground
like a flock of itinerant birds that appears
at the same place on the same day of the same month
each year, on their annual voyage north,
their DNA etched with ancient designs,
schemata of regions unknown.