Kerry James Evans
Of all the birds I barely know the calls for,
the Indigo Bunting is my favorite.
Admittedly, I have no scientific way of knowing,
though, by its fat neck, it seems a happy bird,
and while I haven't really given
much thought to the general happiness
of birds, let's face it; if you are a bird
and your name is Indigo Bunting,
your feathers an incandescent
blue, profile proud, yet chubby,
a beak that doesn't try to be a beak,
just is, then why not have a cheerful song?
It does. I like that it does. I like
that it has the name Indigo,
but is not Indigo; I like that it,
being a bird, will more than likely,
never bunt a baseball, nor
celebrate the 4th of July as a bit
of striped fabric strung about
a wraparound porch somewhere
in suburbia, that it won't ruin summer
by drinking one-too-many margaritas
at the season-end office party,
spend years in therapy unpacking
box after box of childhood
traumas and diluted half-memories
that sound more like the squeals of chickadees,
than productive self-healing.
I like that it is not the Loggerhead Shrike,
who looks like 1987. Business incarnate.
Cue the aggressive heel-strike
of the wannabe manager stalking
the office—known as the butcher bird,
who hangs its prey upon thorns
to eat later—who would kill an Indigo Bunting
if given the chance!
Yes, the Indigo Bunting.
I can hear well enough, two voices arguing in the vinyl siding.
Water heater airship. Lemon-voweled vagaries
tonguing. A pot of decaf
gurgles mouthwash on the burner,
and when I wake, to what morning do I wake?
What dream have I dreamt? Enter you: lipstick,
and avocado breasts. How I shake, how
I want to deconstruct our familiar domesticity, feed the mule
a rotten ear of corn, and call it nourishment,
but this routine cockcrow is a yard sale
for our disgruntled frontal lobes. In the hall closet,
a high school relic hangs.
Call it a Parthenon.
Blue-checkered, tablecloth buttoned
down to my belt, and it's this delta train,
this Mississippi, these dialects kaleidoscopic
on a floating sidewalk of sparrows.
My brainwaves pitch and yaw
from bookshelf to dining room. I eat a meal, then sweat
through the night. Then what? Let this beef and chicken burrito
define me. Let the pleather of this couch
crack like a shovel, then bark. Oak Leaf Fleabane, meet Ovid.
No, I insist. Try these scrambled eggs.
Watch this jalapeño-flavored mango stumble
into a jar of pickles in the back of our stainless steel fridge.
Call the fire department. Report the neglected ham.
Walk with me to Ted Drewes for custard,
and afterward, keep going—all the way down to Wilmore Park,
where we lob bread to the ducklings.
It's May, and I want to kiss you. Please, kiss me.
Kerry James Evans is the recipient of a 2015 NEA Fellowship, a Walter E. Dakin Fellowship from Sewanee Writers' Conference, and his poems have appeared in Agni, New England Review, Ploughshares, and many other journals. He is the author of Bangalore (Copper Canyon). He lives and works in St. Louis.