This from a new (to me) poet, David Baker, an Ohio resident for over twenty-five years, lives and gardens in Granville, is a professor of English at Denison University and editor for The Kenyon Review. So sayeth the back of his new paperback, his 9th collection, "Never-ending Birds." Available at your nearest bookstore.
The greater the lesser, the cars bulked up
and armored for the exurban, panic-
room set, for whom a wide wheelbase
is a military presence on the highway,
superior -- if insecure -- in its security.
A strip of highway, and then they blow by.
And the long blast aftereffect, like the pitch
that flies by the same name, the brush-back
warning shot of a little chin music, what
the veterans call from the dugout.
All you see is a wing then feel the whir.
They're out there now, the lesser the faster,
each fury-borne blur with a ruby ribbon
at the throat of the meanest thing
on wings, diving to suckle at sugar-
water tubes we dangle from our pin oaks,
stealing sips from coral bells or the pink
hoods and human poisons of a foxblove.
We love to watch them. Though watch, precisely,
isn't right. They shoot, dart, flipper away
at astonishing rates --seventy-five wing-
and twelve heartbeats per second, unless
courting during which the tenuous wing-
member vibrates two hundred times a tick.
All we catch is a pencil-line fading-
in-water escape. or the rare instance
of a landing, when one whirs to a pine bough
-- blue finger, with a beak -- then back, back
to bombing each other, bumping windows.
What drives them if not hunger's hundred shapes,
hatred, thirst, mania, survival, force of habit?
Each is greater than the last, according to
the laws of compensation and revenge.