Falco urbanus

“Jeffers is my God.” — Charles Bukowski

When the blades of the falcon’s
    silhouette flash
Between the bright towers of the City
    we rub our eyes.
Pigeons squat in gutters
    on watch for shadows.
Not the ruddy-tailed buzzard
    the poet lionized;
Bagger of rodents, wounded birds,
    wayward fledglings,
Squats atop Tudor cottages and
    unicorn castles;
The brute too clumsy to thread
    a cypress hedge,
Hover above the moor, nosedive
    from infinity.

It being so, he snapped its wings,
crucified it, prayed upon it.

Too late to ask. The poet is dead
    and falcons
Haunt the cities, bed down
    high on steel
Cliffs, far above the mischief
    of raccoonery; prey
Mob the bald valleys below.

Looking up the canyon walls and down
On the long-suffering pigeons,
Wayfarers like drunken hounds,
They lead me to Monsanto's bookshop
But stay back by the curb
    and bob for crumbs.

I climb the back stair
    to the Ginsberg room
To gather paper pigeons,
    and against the back wall
A shelf, drunk with Bukowski.

I pull out an old friend
and leaf through. He tells me
about his god, and I go seeking
through the poem-laden planks.
I survey the surnames
of a hundred creators.
They are legion, and yet
Hank’s is nowhere
to be found; but eyes
adapt to the darkness,
and what had just been
mere length gains width,
depth with finer focus,
and with a lover’s touch
the bindings are coaxed apart,
and heads turn ‘round the room
as the packed spines sigh
and you vanish down a dark
alley, and there he is,
cowering in the shadow,
your wounded songbird.
© 2015–16 Kaweah

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