Flu Bird

Flu Bird

Shoo flu; don’t bother any feverish pretty bird –
she’s got new places to fly, has
songs to fluently sing like Supergirl,
dynamic visitor from a poetic planet,
faster than a speeding silly eagle
able to leap over my building in a single bounce
and she, I’ve heard, feels feverish. Well yes,

I wanted to hear everything even though
we’ve parted, departed, left the park where
she had released her homing pigeons
for their test flights, and to be
alone with me

She loved her birds, and
I, her coo’s, because she’s
a pretty feather
a tickle.

Who knew flu would come again
from bird to bird to pig to human
assuming many mutated forms, a spreading

storm of sneezes across the world
stirring up brews for brooding
clouds hanging over chicken soup
a reign of foreboding virus, but

many don’t succumb
or get hit by lightning
in their tanks or cars
though many are
run over by swine
and never come home

not fine in any case of woe
where soup falls into the wishing well, but
let me fly home where love is food
and yet finally our love would be uncaged.

Let there be a sage, I say,
no, I demand, that says

if there’s any justice,
we’ll meet again
in the meadow by the lake
for goodness sakes, only just
sneezing joy from pollen and tickles,
and never struck by lightning

— Douglas Gilbert


15 thoughts on “Flu Bird

  1. Since the first draft, I added a semicolon to the first line because I have two command sentences jumbled together. In the third line second stanza, I changed the tense: “she had released her homing pigeons”, because I think that I’m talking in the past where I refer to something that’s further in the past. I think this could be the final draft.
        Hmm, some of these tenses are hard to understand. I don’t remember the technical terms for them. They were supposed to teach grammar in Jr. High but I don’t remember them doing much at all. But anyway, I think when I keep referring to “I’ve heard” that would seem to refer to near-past gossip and the other events are further into the past.
        Well, I hope these changes don’t disrupt anything.

    1. Ahh…now i see what you changed. When i first read it before I read your comment it didn’t seem much different. But I think the tense does better clarify that the homing pigeons were further in the past.
      Yeah, sometimes i wonder if they even teach grammar here. (giggling) I mean, you should just hear some of the things that people around here say and don’t even think twice about. I think one of the biggest offenders that bug me the most is “ain’t” and “no” used together. As in “I ain’t eating no more cupcakes”. “Ain’t” is bad enough by itself but throw that “no” in there for a double negative and it’s even worse.
      I don’t think the changes disrupt anything. I love the poem, it’s great. Sorry I haven’t replied back on the other comments yet, I’ll be back. We had a birthday sleepover last night for my son and it’s been kinda loud and busy around here.

      1. Thanks. I’ve always wondered about the insidious continuation of “ain’t” . I used to think it was anger over the neglect of not having a full collection of contractions, but that’s just me I think. I saw that there were “can’t, aren’t, isn’t, I’m…” . I could see why people said, “Aren’t I included,” because if you say “Am I not included,” that sounds pompous even though it’s correct. Somehow, there’s not any way you can use, in a conversation, “Am I not…” without everyone lifting an eyebrow. So I always thought that if “Are you not…” becomes “Aren’t you…”, then “Am I not…” should become “Amn’t I…”. But there is no such thing, and since you can’t say “Am I not…” without it having a negative connotation, the rebels have gone with “ain’t”.
            Or maybe, the real reason is Song Contamination: there’s the song, “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone.” Actually, with the double negative, it would mean there isn’t no-sunshine. No sunshine is dark. Not dark is light. So we have: There is sunshine when she’s gone. Hmmm, you could fix this with:
        “Hell no sunshine when she’s gone” or “Am I not dark in sorrow’s cloudy sunshine when she’s gone”. Hmm, that ain’t it. “Am I not dark in sorrow’s moody glow when she has gone away in the night taking my sunshine days, left me only streetlight shadows of gloom.

  2. (giggling) I never thought of it like that but everyone does sort of raise an eyebrow when someone says “Am I not”. I’m not sure why though, it sounds natural, it’s just that no one ever says it for some reason.
    I like all your fixes…maybe hand in hand, the lonesome ones could leave their streetlight shadows of gloom and find the sunshine days again together. The first poem I ever really got into that made me want to start writing was Annabel Lee by Edgar Allan Poe. I was in the fifth grade and for some reason, I just felt so moved by it that i memorized it. And then I read the complete works of Poe book that my father had at the house. What you typed there made me think of it again and I just had to look it up. Oddly enough, yesterday was his birthday. I suppose it’s good timing to read some Poe.
    “For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
    Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
    And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes
    Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;”
    Poe sounds like he definitely knew those streetlight shadows of gloom and was missing his Sunshine Days.

    1. “The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
      Went envying her and me-”

      Oh gee, that’s interesting, I didn’t know that one. That is very dark that he could feel that angels out of jealously could kill his perfect love. If angels could be so savage there would be no God or hope. And he’s not even talking about “fallen angels”, but just the capriciousness of ordinary angels.
      “That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
      Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

      How can there be a just God when Annabel Lee dies
      and angels laugh in capricious winds
      howling like banshees

      1. Yeah, it is a dark poem, a very sad one too. I think that’s what gripped me so much. Up until that point I thought all poems were like Dr. Suess or Roses are red, Violets are blue ect. This poem showed me that you could express negative feelings beautifully too. A lot of times when someone is deeply grieving, they just have to place the blame somewhere. The heart and mind are broken in a way and feel like this was done to them purposefully. It sounds like he was angry at God, at the angels and the highborn kinsman for taking his love and happiness away. He loved her so much he didn’t even want to part with her when she died. In the last line he is laying with her in her tomb. But for some reason it’s also crazily romantic feeling. “But we loved with a love that was more than love” I mean, that line right there seems to make me believe in a love that probably will never even exist for me.

      2. I was just thinking about what I wrote earlier, i suppose making the assumption that Poe was grieving over loss and wanting to place blame was just how I’ve always interpreted the poem. If I read it literally without trying to make guesses at Poe’s psychological state of being, then it seems even darker than it did before somehow. It is a VERY chilling topic…

    2. On writing as dark as Poe:
      I don’t know if her love can be more than mortal love if she doesn’t like “Green Eggs and Ham.” I brought her a cat in a hat but she saw no magic in me because I think she was expecting a rabbit. I once wrote a eulogy for a stranger; it was odd and painful to hear an outpouring of grief and praise and then to try to summarize it with anecdotes and bits of humor. Wouldn’t it be odd if someone came to me and said, “I have a friend who is not yet dead but I want to prepare a eulogy to read. I’ll tell you my feelings and maybe you can write something…” What if it turned out to be for me… Like in a counter to that commercial for margarine where they fool Mother Nature into thinking it’s natural butter and she says after a lightning bolt, “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.” It might be nice to be coaxed into making a margarine life taste like butter. Oh gee, that was arduous trying to remember a lost thought and point of some kind. I blame margarine for Annabel Lee’s death — he should have buttered her up against the cold wind. The angels should have told him to give her butter cookies — she was too thin and frail.

      1. hmmm… I like eggs and ham, but I don’t even remember the last time I ate them together and I doubt that I’ve ever ate a green egg unless it was Easter and it was one of the hard boiled ones that we dyed and decorated. Dr Suess is awesome though, I didn’t mean to imply that I didn’t like him or anything in my previous reply. The Grinch is one of my favorite old Christmas shows and I used to read a bunch of the books to my son when he was younger. Now he’s too big for them. He likes big novels now…like the Harry Potter series a lot or Rick Riordan’s books. Oh that’s another thing I forgot. I had bought him some books at his school book fair in the fall and hid them because I had plans to give them to him as Christmas presents. Well I must’ve done a good job hiding them because I completely forgot all about them until the other day when I was like “oh yeah, did you ever finish the Mark of Athena? He was like huh??? And i realized that they were still hidden in my closet. I went and put them into a gift bag really quick and then we both had a good laugh at my silly forgetfulness. I told him it was a Day After Birthday present. hehe…
        I remember you talking about that commercial before. I went and watched it on youtube. You can find almost everything on there…but i did stop buying margarine after i found out it was pretty close to the same make up as plastic or something like that. Yes…butter cookies all fresh and warm straight from the oven. Maybe even with some icing drizzled across them and eaten while snuggled in front of a warm fire. It’s nice to be warm when the winds get so cold.

    3. If love is extending one’s being into another, losing boundaries to be the other as much as self, to want and live as both, to feel as both, that immersion into human experience is to be fully human which is something the Angels can not do without losing their identity and forgetting who they are. Would Angels envy a human existence with no divine memory of who they were? A very ego-centric grief or non-transcendent trap to believe there can be nothing better and nothing more as would quoth the Raven. Too much bird seed and not enough flower of heaven. Poe did too much poe-tree perhaps. Oh grief is too manic to look for a flashlight when the margarine power of love is out and the churning butter is in the house even if the cows are in the corn. Um, well, I have no idea why Poe was dark, but now I’m hungry.

      1. That’s a beautiful description of love. It just reminds me that true, real, romantic, love is probably close to impossible. If they knew how rare true love was and that most likely they’d just end up broken-hearted and sitting around alone, i doubt they would envy it at all. No one seems to care about actual love anymore…but that’s ok cause at least there’s corn and butter and one can still dream of days when bellies and hearts are both full.

    4. I find the old poets too esoteric. I don’t understand what they’re trying to get at. I think I remember that Poe had a lot of allusions to famous literature but I could never understand what that was about — well, yeah, because I never read the works he was referring to and…
          That reminds me: I’ve been meaning to mention about “et cetera”. I think it’s abbreviated as “etc.” I think I’ve seen you use “ect” a few times and I assume you meant etc.?
          It’s an odd thing. I just looked it up in my paper dictionary and they have “et cetera” but they don’t list the abbreviation. Maybe they’re saving it for a special “abbreviation section.” Now I don’t remember where that is… in the appendix, or preface, or under “a”… I don’t think I’ll search now…. I hate when they do that — all these subtle hints about what is proper or not or whatever. I wish they would just include the references right there…
          But anyway, it’s interesting that they list, as a separate entry, a word that’s a plural noun, complete in its own right. It’s this without spaces: etceteras. (Oh, look at that, spell check says it’s not a word, but I just looked it up). They even give a quotation from Shakespeare for it: “Come we to full points here, and are etceteras nothing?” Geez, they don’t even give the full reference info and the context. That doesn’t make sense to me.

      1. Let me try this again. I already lost my first reply due to a scatterbrain click on the Shakespeare link before I had posted the comment. Ok, i looked up ect and it stands for Electroconvulsive Therapy – that’s definitely not what i meant when I used that abbreviation. (ha!) Ya know, i was thinking that it’s probably just how i wrongly used it one time i was a kid and no one corrected it so I kept using it that way and before too long it was set in my mind that it was correct. When I think about it I KNOW how to spell et cetera. If i try to spell it ect cetera it looks completely wrong so i don’t know why I would think that ect is the correct abbreviation. I’ve wondered a few times if I might have a case of mild dyslexia too, I usually just blame it on being scatterbrained though. I do funny stuff sometimes, like the other day i found a skirt and top i had bought in November, hung in my closet and forgot about. I was unsure of what to wear to my friend’s wedding and ended up wearing a different dress. I was going to return the skirt and top I didn’t wear to the store but I spaced out with all the holiday stuff going on and forgot about them until the other day when i found them in the closet with the tags still on them. I guess I’m glad I didn’t return them now but the extra money from returning them would’ve been good last month when I needed it. Oh well, i suppose it all worked out in the end because I had a nice outfit for my grandparents 60th anniversary party.

    5. King Henry IV, Part II : Act II Scene 4
      Oh gee, it’s much too hard. It’s all archaic words — totally unreadable — unless you’ve studied it as a foreign language. Yikes, English has changed so much since Shakespeare’s time. I looked at it and understood nothing. The context for the quote is no help at all. I went to a summary and the summary is too hard:

      I’m not sure what’s going on here but I think the “etceteras” in the Tavern, where the scene is taking place, is sleeping with a prostitute. The whole scene is supposed to be “bawdy double entendre” and sarcasm and innuendo and comic banter. But without knowing the language and the historical references, it’s impossible. So now I realize that when High School teachers tell their students to go read Shakespeare, they’re idiots. No wonder everyone hates it. If you haven’t been taught archaic English, it’s worthless and hopeless. Yeah, for any of it to mean something, it would have to be taught as a second language. Gee, I always wondered why teachers claimed it was written in English and scolded us if we didn’t love it. They are nuts. I can see how scholars who know the language would love it, but gee you should have told us we needed a translation. Hmmm, I’ve heard people claim they love Shakespeare but they don’t know the meaning of all of the archaic words. But anyway, here’s the context for “etceteras” :

      “MISTRESS QUICKLY: O’ my word, captain, there’s none such here. What
      the good-year! do you think I would deny her? For
      God’s sake, be quiet.

      PISTOL: Then feed, and be fat, my fair Calipolis.
      Come, give’s some sack.
      ‘Si fortune me tormente, sperato me contento.’
      Fear we broadsides? no, let the fiend give fire:
      Give me some sack: and, sweetheart, lie thou there.

      [Laying down his sword]

      Come we to full points here, and are etceteras nothing?

      FALSTAFF: Pistol, I would be quiet.

      PISTOL: Sweet knight, I kiss thy neaf: what! we have seen
      the seven stars.

      DOLL TEARSHEET: For God’s sake, thrust him down stairs: I cannot
      endure such a fustian rascal.

      1. Yeah, I’m completely confused when I try to read Shakespeare. I remember us talking about Romeo and Juliet back in the summer and how the words have different meanings. I guess i’d be in big trouble if I ever got a time machine and went back to when everyone spoke Old English. I bet they would be pretty confused trying to understand me too. I wonder if they would think I was nuts or something? The teachers should provide a translator page for all the old archaic words or something when they assign Shakespeare. It would be much more enjoyable for the students if they actually understood what they were reading.

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