Two poems by A.R. Francis

For Fear of an Old Bird Aging

This bird used to sit on the wire
outside my window.
It could have been just one
or a million clones of the same feathers.
But I used to watch it.
Pretend to fly away with it
the way children do.

One day I found my brother’s pellet gun
and shot at its still frame. The first shot missed,
probably to the left. The aim was off.
The old bird had no response
to the breeze of death roaming past it
with amazing treachery.
I became angry.

“You old bird.
Why couldn’t you just fly away
and stay in another place.
I’d have written you
and you’d have told luminous stories
about the heavens.”

I shot again and saw the bird drop,
fatally into the backyard.

I heard my Mother yelling.
“What did you do?”

“I shot that old bird.
It didn’t even budge after the first shot missed.
It deserved it.”

“Those birds mate for life. I hope you know what you’ve done.”

I had no idea.
I felt little remorse
and went back on my way.

Years later, I’m still unsure. Maybe
I’m the bird come looking for its mate
left lying in the grass.
Or maybe I’m still just the gunman.
It’s not entirely clear.
But the wires are empty now.
Word must have spread
that the window overlooking the wire
caged a real bastard.

"Bird on a wire" (photo by Flickr user John K)

Tchaikovsky from the Hungry, Tchaikovsky for the Lonely

The boy was young,
Just a few years younger
Than myself.

He stepped onto the train,
His head bowed –
His shirt bore
True residence
Of the street.

“I am a young opera singer
Unable to make it in New York.”

It’s been done before.
Beggars,
Junkies,
The whole lot.

But this was a boy
No different than me.

And when he sang
He leapt lonely,
Hungry
For Tchaikovsky.

And the metal walls
And the weathered women
And the goat-eared lawyer
And the Wall St. has-beens
Could not turn away.

The boy filled his hat
With one,
Maybe two meals
And bowed again.

Without another sound
He left the train.

A.R. Francis was born in Baltimore, Maryland and has held residence in New Brunswick, New Jersey and Chicago, Illinois.  He is the author of two poetry chapbooks:  Watching the River Through Stained Glass Windows and When the Well is Dry and the City’s Still Burning. He currently resides in New York City.