my stay at hospital

It sounds, you know, a lot like Baby—
that Arkansas town
where the miracle arrived:
three thousand red-winged blackbirds,
dead, dropped from the sky, blind, in the dead of night:
austere, the mystery of location,
dislocation, sacrifice.
How did this happen?
What brought these rubied pilots,
dressed in black, irresistibly to earth?
One suggestion:
stressful fireworks lighting up
their sky on New Year’s Eve.
Perhaps the air the birds breathed
and flew through, fabulous, proved
too lofty;
did climate change end their life in idle space
where once they proudly marched?
They gorged themselves on sunflower seeds:
this explanation, a reduction
to absurdity and slapstick.

Doomed, the birds stuck together
in their regimented flock,
mistaking proximity
for a kind of connection,
friendship, maybe, or familiarity,
or being on top of things.

Silently, the sleepflyers patched
a broken sky. How many
back-and-forths, mute trips,
dreamt requiems, farces, laments?
The birds: Were they missed?
What spirit passed undetected
or didn’t notice them on their robotic mission?
Can anything be mended?
What can stitch together, as before,
shredded migrations of hope
that some, as I now, still sing about?

Three thousand freeze-frames:
birds—birds fell onto trees, roofs,
upon the ground, into our arms.


  1. Thank you for this poem, Dennis. What a voice. With the possible exception of lines 17-21, it’s perfection! Oh yes, I *do* expect to hear from you about this comment! *bows deeply*

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