‘Free as a bird!’ Where’s the truth in that?
How hard in the rough bird's work!
At least the caged bird eats, albeit at the cager’s will.
It’s archaic, free as a bird.
Even their mating games arise from compulsion,
and their fights? to gain a dying worm, a slug,
remnants from the garbage truck. Even the stars
in sparkling speed shine toward a certain fixity.
Of course the peaches bought today, hard rocks,
might still take off with auks next week
and skim north waters, white-breasted on
tuxedo wings. We hunt and peck, wing songs,
color the sky with birds in flight and words
for sustenance to suit our mood, always hungry.
A Literal God
A literal god is best, the Methodists
taught me. The whale did swallow Jonah.
Believe, and you will arise. I imagine
summer steam in air, absorbed as rain
kids stamp their feet in.
It makes little difference
what I thought, or think. I see
St. Christopher hold hands with Fatima. Sure,
it was a jumble, a jungle, a jigsaw, Jesus,
Siddhartha, Mohamed, Zeus.
I grew to love
Akhenaten’s one god, the Sun, Aten, a literal
god—neither stone nor burning bush, or any
other imitation of invisibles meant to occupy
the center of the universe.
The Sun—champion of the way
things vitalize. I know it’s not good story line, like
Abraham’s or Job’s but then, it shines so brightly when
it shines, what else is there to know.
William M. Rivera has worked with international organizations and universities in some 30 countries. His poems have appeared in The Kenyon Review, The Nation, and elsewhere, and he is also the author of Buried in the Mind’s Backyard (2011), The Living Clock (2013), and Noise (2015). contact