From Brown Thrashers by Hugh Behm-Steinberg (pt. 1 of 2)


Brown Thrashers

Found in vegetation, in hedgerows, old fields, and wood edges foraging on the ground;
the ground tells the birds I’m still a bride, even before you were born I was still a bride.

I get picked, and picked, and turn right in the dark.
One of us is delicate, one is an ear, one of us is a house with hair growing out of its eaves.

Be more perpendicular have wideawake dreams where you talk and what you say gets hard, for
when a snake is asleep he’s the worst snake in the world, even the worms mock him.

Might as well have a head made of hazel wood, this land is the advertisement for this land:
its farmers work so shamefully hard, brown thrashers echo their cries.

As ghosts and the battery operated beings of the world, there are several others I cannot see long enough to identify, so I’m big again; they make me eat fire again.

Oh babe, I say, I don’t want to die in Houston, unless it’s in your arms;
you say God worries all the time so we don’t have to.

The dogs kiss everyone it’s no big deal dogs open to loving anyone;
it’s a way they undermine being owned.

So my neighbor is having an affair, I can hear her fucking while her husband’s at work;
the yard full of flies: no one’s taking care of the chickens.

Move to the country, from the country to the country, to even more country, to a wilderness, on the coast of it. Then be on a boat, watching a gang of sailfish get liberated by their organizational skills.

What is a song? A song is a long series of phrases, uttered twice, separated by pauses.
My call note is a “tchuck” like a smacking kiss. Oh incredible racket of love!

_______________________________________
Ivory Billed Woodpecker

Some ghost erasing its ghost, whose ghost resists with all its might, being you.
You don’t know you’re doing this. Tell your ghost there’s a river here, can’t you smell the turbulance? Don’t you feel it pulling you?

Rather be a fish than a ghost, rather be a magnolia forest than a ghost, a bottle with a note wedged inside it instead of a ghost.

Is or was one of the largest. It goes away because you killed it it comes back but it hides from you.

Spend your best American money and defend the emotional against the avant-garde who want to sleep with everyone and never have to pay for it.

There are no unambiguous photographs, videos, specimens, or DNA samples from feathers or feces of the Ivory-billed woodpecker but we know its there.

It’s the bottom of the 2nd inning and Kyle Kendrick is pitching against the Florida Marlins.
I say ghost bird and you come to me. I have a lot of faith you can circle nearby even if you’re resisting what I’m telling you.

The spirit is a pole, a teacup, you as you grow old, a fold, an ivory billed woodpecker saying.
I’m here this is what I sound like before they made a cartoon character out of me.

At times primeval hardwood forests cover the earth, and they would never flock,
preferring solitude when peeling the bark off dead trees. Crossing your arms around your purse I got something I want to show you.

We pair for life. I pull the night shift while you sleep. Inhabitants of the forest we live in think we’re crazy, So we go to a psychiatrist, a wolf with a Scottish accent, and it’s great until we find out he’s extinct too.

_____________________________________
Hugh Behm-Steinberg is the author of Shy Green Fields (No Tell Books) and The Opposite of Work (JackLeg Press, forthcoming December 2012). His poems can be found in such places as Crowd, VeRT, Volt, Cue, Slope, Aught, Fence, dirt, Ditch, Nap, Forge, Swerve and Zeek, as well as few places with more than one syllable. He teaches writing at California College of the Arts in San Francisco, where he edits the journal Eleven Eleven.