Older now, he is among us in diminished form,
clothes sagging, hat large on the fine head

He likes the largest stores acres of socks and tuna where
high girders look down on him also who
pushes his cart and leans on it a little
... something sacramental about the belittling
perspective something
heroic about the high shadows in the niches
of the corrugated roof
beneath which
under spotlights that don't spread far
he moves with the people who comb through
the aisles pulling down unwieldy
batches of single things to last them through
cold time
that can't be trusted

There he is at the far end of an avenue
of obelisks of paper
head cunningly mobile like a bird's eyes quick like one
beading on flecks that might be the
morsels that it needs
or on grains or seeds

At this its faltering morse of chirrups but no long address
the same few wordchains

at my feet
water water water

millet beak millet crack millet
air down danger aieeeeeeee

But in their multitudes horrific
blue golden green their throats and breasts
all with the herringbone
wingcaps that grind like blades
of a thousand ceiling fans in a
flaming house

After the teak forests were hewn down plagues
of parakeets rippled down on the crops
themselves a crop digesting
no longer charming and

but like any swarm or heap or tumulus or
housing project or array of products or uncountable mass
of faces even rich ones


You can almost see them in his mind
my father's wordchains as they click against each other

rapidly succeeding in his mind

I've got to get there got to
bank today to get to sleep to shave

got not to wait
a second longer for what I've earned
my whole life through the right to want
without excuse

and he thinks the people at the other end are
idiots or
when things are going well
just helpless
or when they know a little fact
that he does not
(that beating flour too fine will mean the gluten
cancels out the baking soda and the rolls
won't rise
well then that they are smart
as whips

Eyes almost black behind his glasses shining

before the freezer cases of brightly packaged
dinners with too much
sodium and fat
rounds of chicken steaming
like eager faces against the costly frost

he flies up into the highest branches
of the possible air and then goes still
at everything spread down there for sale