The Sacrosanct Mallard of Mamaroneck Harbor
Listen, Jesus, it wasn’t my idea
for this mallard to stand on the dock,
stretching his wings out all crucifixiony.
Hell, I thought he was a crow.
I had to ask a guy on a boat my symbol’s
true name, which led to the description
of how they’ll alight and circle, dive down,
transmigrate the water’s plane, return,
beak full of fish. The poet in my head
extolled, Holy Post-modern iconography,
Boat Guy! That story has one Christ image
crushing the life from another!
Surely some revelation’s at hand again!
I thanked the butt crack he turned back to me,
and scampered off quickly to epiphanize,
Death negates all / specificity, compromises / precisely
nothing: moral / stature, journeys / intended
to end / in victory, bonds / to those we cherish/
beyond / reason – It is not / an event, rather
a perspective, growing / slowly in each / separate
sight, teaching / each to see / the high /
tide trickling, searching / fingers over the warm / sand past the break- […]
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Which unmitigated aesthetic wizard
with obviously too much free time
has modified wind socks, fitted them
with wings, drawn on eyes and beaks,
and posted them around the harbor,
a flock of post-Icarian nonsense, soaring
out the ends of their tethers sunward?
What was wrong with the Avian-
Americans already peopling the harbor?
Don’t these inverted birders know
I come here when I fear my soul
has fled forever, so she will see me
through the eyes of gulls returning
from the water, swans craning backwards?
Can’t they see that I need her
sickwise eye to return and display,
in the mirrors of this world that holds me,
all of the parts of myself I’ve forgotten?
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Michael Collins’ poems have received Pushcart Prize nominations and appeared in more than 40 journals and magazines, including Grist, Kenning Journal, Pank, SOFTBLOW and Smartish Pace. His first chapbook, How to Sing when People Cut off your Head and Leave it Floating in the Water, won the Exact Change Press Chapbook Contest in 2014. A full-length collection, Psalmandala, was published later that year.