The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble – Bird's Lament

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The little sparrows

hop ingenuously

about the pavement


with sharp voices

over those things

that interest them.

But we who are wiser

shut ourselves in

on either hand

and no one knows

whether we think good

or evil.


the old man who goes about

gathering dog-lime

walks in the gutter

without looking up

and his tread

is more majestic than

that of the Episcopal minister

approaching the pulpit

of a Sunday.

These things

astonish me beyond words.

Bird. Bird with outstretched

wings poised

inviolate unreaching

yet reaching

you image this November

planes to a stop

miraculously fixed in my

arresting eyes


makes him

cry out lustily -

which is a trait

more related to music

than otherwise.

Wherever he finds himself

in early spring,

on back streets

or beside palaces,

he carries on


his amours.

It begins in the egg,

his sex genders it:

What is more pretentioulsy


or about which

we more pride ourselves?


Ten thousand sparrows

who had come in from

the desert

to roost. They filled the trees

of a small park. Men fled

(with ears ringing!)

from their droppings,

leaving the premises

to the alligators

who inhabit

the fountain. His image

is familiar

as that of the aristocratic



throws back his head

and simply -

yells! The din

is terrific

The way he swipes his bill

across a plank

to clean it,

is decisive.

So with everything

he does. His coppery


give him the air

of being always

a winner-and yet

I saw once,

the female of his species

clinging determinedly

to the edge of

a water pipe,

catch him

by his crown-feathers

to hold him



hanging above the city streets


she was through


the black escutcheon of the breast


an effigy of a sparrow,

a dried wafer only,

left to say

and it says it

without offence,


This was I,

a sparrow.

I did my best;



Against the sky.

Let me not forget at least,

after the three day rain,

beaks raised aface, the two starlings

at and near the top twig

of the white-oak, dwafing

the barn, completing the minute

gree of the sculptured foliage, their

bullet heads bent back, their horny

lips chattering to the morning

sun! Praise! while the

wraithlike warblers, all but unseen

in looping flight dart from

pine to spruce, spruce to pine

southward. Southward! where

new mating warms the wit and cold

does not strike, for respite.

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