Vox Populi

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Barbara Hamby: Thus Spake the Mockingbird

The mockingbird says, hallelujah, coreopsis, I make the day
    bright, I wake the night-blooming jasmine. I am
the duodecimo of desperate love, the hocus pocus passion
    flower of delirious retribution. You never saw such a bird,
such a triage of blood and feathers, tongue and bone. O the world
    is a sad address, bitterness melting the tongues of babies,
breasts full of accidental milk, but I can teach the flowers to grow,
    take their tight buds, unfurl them like flags in the morning heat,
fat banners of scent, flat platters of riot on the emerald scene.
    I am the green god of pine trees, conducting the music
of rustling needles through a harp of wind. I am the heart of men,
    the wild bird that drives their sex, forges their engines,
jimmies their shattered locks in the dark flare where midnight slinks.
    I am the careless minx in the skirts of women, the bright moon
caressing their hair, the sharp words pouring from their beautiful mouths
    in board rooms, on bar stools, in big city laundrettes. I am
Lester Young’s sidewinding sax, sending that Pony Express
    message out west in the Marconi tube hidden in every torso
tied tight in the corset of do and don’t, high and low, yes and no. I am
    the radio, first god of the twentieth century, broadcasting
the news, the blues, the death counts, the mothers wailing
    when everyone’s gone home. I am sweeping
through the Eustachian tubes of the great plains, transmitting
    through every ear of corn, shimmying down the spine
of every Bible-thumping banker and bureaucrat, relaying the anointed
    word of the shimmering world. Every dirty foot that walks
the broken streets moves on my wings. I speak from the golden
    screens. Hear the roar of my discord murdering the trees,
screaming its furious rag, the fuselage of my revival-tent brag. Open
    your windows, slip on your castanets. I am the flamenco
in the heel of desire. I am the dancer. I am the choir. Hear my wild
    throat crowd the exploding sky. O I can make a noise.



“Thus Spake the Mockingbird” from Babel. Copyright © 2004 by Barbara Hamby.
Used by permission of the author and the University of Pittsburgh Press.

Barbara Hamby was born in New Orleans and raised in Honolulu. She is the author of seven books of poems, most recently Holoholo (2021). She has also edited an anthology of poems, Seriously Funny (Georgia, 2009), with her husband David Kirby. She teaches at Florida State University where she is Distinguished University Scholar.

2 comments on “Barbara Hamby: Thus Spake the Mockingbird

  1. Loranneke
    November 6, 2022

    O and can Barbara Hamby write! ” I am Lester Young’s sidewinding sax, sending that Pony Express
    message out west in the Marconi tube hidden in every torso
    tied tight in the corset of do and don’t, high and low, yes and no. I am
    the radio, first god of the twentieth century, broadcasting
    the news, the blues, the death counts, the mothers wailing
    when everyone’s gone home. “Wow!

    Like

    • Vox Populi
      November 7, 2022

      Thanks, Laure-Anne. I love Barbara’s poems — so many brilliant leaps. Chains of wild associations held together by grit and spit.

      >

      Like

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This entry was posted on November 6, 2022 by in Environmentalism, Poetry and tagged , , .

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