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James P. Lenfestey

A Prayer to El Niño on Behalf of the Geese


El Niño, I pray to you on my
cracked and bleeding knees and
fully acknowledging my beloved grandfather
who brought the first car and airplane
(which would not fly)
to our small Wisconsin town,
and my father who trucked ton after ton of
anthracite coal rattling down basement chutes
all over the county
so that I might have heat and books
and fly over the world, I pray
on behalf of today's confused geese
flying north in January, and mother bears
sniffing bleary-eyed at sprouting buds,
that El Niño's unaccountable winter torrents
wash clean the powerful men and women
fouling the only nest we will ever
know in the universe.



A Cacophony of Grackles


And starlings, ugly interlopers,
spotted, yellow-billed, in
rapacious reunions and flocks,

brittlely descended on lawns
or ganging whole trees in fall,
disastrous legacy of some booster

insisting the birds of Shakespeare
sing in Central Park, so missing the
disruptive immensity of his particulars.

So now my Midwestern morning,
and yours in Massachusetts and New Mexico,
is wracked by flocks of noise descending

like static on the radio,
like snowmobiles whining through wilderness,
under which, only faintly,

lie the warbler's passing phrases,
and the persistent concert of the
red-eyed vireo, solitary, invisible.