An Hour Gone Past Midnight

An hour gone past midnight;
the songbirds try out new trills:
sparrow, robin, mockingbird,
wren, finch and whip-or-whill

all whistle at their favorite tunes
now that the traffic’s pace
has slowed to stopping. The pale moon
reflects in pools of fallen rain

left from the evening storm,
their mirror surfaces broken
by the floating corpses of termites
caught out during their swarm
tonight, seeking wood and water.

Across the street a houselamp shines
against a window’s lattice bars;
and locked inside, these neighbors sit
illuminated by the eerie glow
of a brand new fifty-eight inch god.

That’s a light you can’t hide under a barrel,
I think, then listen to the birds, again.
I like not knowing what tonight’s program is.

Surprise me, oh great universe
with what is yet to be
for the unknown is never worse
than dull monotony
Let loose the new, and strange and wild
I will not be depressed;
No matter how you show yourself
Likely I’ll be impressed.
It’s all been done, the cynics say,
there is no more unique;
but I must strongly disagree
when I hear each day speak.
The words may be the same, it’s true,
strung out in well-known ways,
in sentences and paragraphs
like yesterday’s displays
but each word, if you pay it mind
is different from the rest;
it lives for just a moment,
then it fades in silence, death.
Behind these brief, temporal sounds
an underlying hum
continues on; it shakes the ground
like a low-pounding drum
The heartbeat stays the same,
only the synopation varies —
the flitting words that scat around
seeming so ordinary.

A half hour gone past one o’clock
and all the birds, asleep.
Like me, they’ve done their exercise
and now have jobs to keep.

The locusts and the crickets now
come out, and take their turn;
another unwrit manuscript
I think worthwhile to learn.

19 MAY 2004

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