Two Poems by David Roderick

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Where the dead are buried with shells over their eyes
we’re most disciplined, most weary.
When their statues come to life
               the trees come to life.

We’re most disciplined and weary
when love is an absence, an abstraction like insects
               in trees come to life.
Nature is the calm of a chorus

when love is absent. Or an abstraction, like insects.
Or rather: birds sing the purest songs.
Nature is the calm of a chorus
made of our mother’s wisdom and our father’s tongue.

The birds sing pure songs
over the statues they soil and stones engraved.
Made of our mother’s wisdom and father’s tongue,
even the ground has a mood.

Over the statues they soil, and stones and graves,
               the trees come to life.
Even the ground has a mood
where we, the dead, are buried with shells over our eyes.



Apology to the Species Endangered

Easy enough now that we’ve revised
the bestiary, captured it in pixels
and released it on the Net. Our demise
is your demise, your hell our hell:

oceans brought to simmer, birds
concussed against skylines. At least
the Pope can download a white tiger
from the Tobu Zoo, wallpaper its ghost

on his laptop. Consider us late
illuminators, or blight—the planet’s sarcoma.
We regret we made you the emblems

of sacred scripts. They say Rome ate
bluebuck and elephant, ostrich and puma.
Serve us with truffle vinaigrette on a white plate.




David Roderick is the author of Blue Colonial and The Americans. He lives in Berkeley with his wife, poet Rachel Richardson, and their two daughters.

Photo of statue in cemetery by Michael Gaida, courtesy Pixabay. is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, artwork, case studies, and more since 1997.