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Michael Rothenberg



'Dozers and homo sapiens renovating Eden. Does it belong to me?

Those golden acrobats,
            masked and feathered array.
Damselfly. Saltmarsh Yellowthroat. Merlin!

Is it mine?
The lupine.
Ranunculus, willow and tule.
          Melodies on cattail singing posts.

Revolutions beyond evolution.
Those charging loins,
                      darting, split-tongued, turquoise

Garter snake,
           hormone beveling bone through spring grass.

In another drought year.
        Those golden beings working in another tongue.
Do they belong to God or Me?

Circus effusive, dispersed
Over wave-bashed headlands, bluff,
                       creeping a-fluff, quivering ashore.

In tide pools.
Aquatic revelers.
Take. Take.
Tentacular, slimy,
                        deeper and further. Do I turn?

Or is it Noah's Ark
           Crushing against  the sudden appearance
                             of sunken landform?

Is it mine or God's accordant plan, these tools,
hoe, plow, need
raised so Majority
              goes mitigating biblical resolution,

the formal hills, seeps and watershed, silting marsh?

Battered democracy. Exclusion from Eden.
It comes to me in alarm.

Is it mine?

Or God ringing in on every cue,
                    in hierarchy, does it belong to me?
                                  The headache says,

Pressing children, family, you,
                             there will be others after you.



Elegy for the Dusky Seaside Sparrow

Take note:

Rock Hudson died of AIDS.

Rita Hayworth's picture was pasted
                         on the first Atom Bomb.

Yul Brynner died the day my father died,
         Orson Welles a week after.

So what about the Dusky Seaside Sparrow?
Extinct in the middle of June,
              nineteen hundred and eighty-seven.

It's a Disney World
            of space shuttles and evolution.

But this heart of mine
wants to stop.

the demise of the river,
the fanged beast at the door of the sea.

It's a sentimental heart in a roomful of mirrors.
It's always an elegy.
Thinking of you, Dear,
                     it's an elegy.

Originally published in Cool Bird Poems.


Michael Rothenberg lives in Pacifica, California.  He is co-founder of Shelldance, a tropical plant nursery specializing in orchids and bromeliads.  He has published two monographs on the Bromeliaceae.  He is also a poet, songwriter, and publisher of Big Bridge Press and Big Bridge, a Webzine of poetry and everything else.  His poems have appeared in Cortland Review, Exquisite Corpse, Jacket, Sycamore Review, Zyzzyva, and many others.  Most recently Mr. Rothenberg is editor of Overtime: Selected Poems , by Philip Whalen.  His book of poems, Letters, Postcards and Baguettes: The Paris Journal, will be published by Fish Drum Press this year.
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