The Ancient Modern

Terms of Venery for Solitary Birds /  Joshua Alan Sturgill

You can’t fix this. There’s no embrace
tender enough to bind the pieces back, not
when so much is lost in each explosion.

a Reluctance of Egrets

Sweetly said reminders of a better time
are salt to the wounds. The solitude isn’t
voluntary. It isn’t bravado. It’s compulsion.

a Despondency of Wrens

It’s a desperate reach, up, out of life.
Blindly choosing direction by the heat
rather than by the light of the Sun.

a Credulity of Bitterns

Each soul has its set of passages. And with
each turn, each hall, each door, a piece
of our humanity is burned away from us.

a Subversion of Hummingbirds

…ten thousand fall at the right hand…
…and where I go you may not come…
Alone, Elijah steps into the cave. Alone,
Moses ascends into the dreadful fire.

a Resignation of Hawks

No terms of venery for solitary birds.
No comfort for the mother
of a stillborn child. If not war and plague

a Disquietude of Herons

then regrets and griefs. We die in isolation.
And who with tender words could justify
the graveyard just below the busy street.


All poetry and supplementary material: copyright 2020 by Joshua Alan Sturgill. All rights reserved.

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