March 4th, 2017

poetry, exceptindreams

Cardinal Cardinal | Stephen Dunn

“Cardinal Cardinal”
Stephen Dunn

You’re a male attacking the window
where your rival appears, dangerous
and familiar. You know exactly
what that bird has in mind.
Important, therefore, to defeat it

but you have a brain no bigger
than your enemy’s. The odds
are against you, as they were
when the female was given all that
quiet beauty. You’re bright red,

as is the bird you attack, and anyone
who’s ever been loud and horny
understands the problem. Nothing
is likely to happen if you go on like this
unless suddenly you’re frightened into sense,

which is exactly what occurs, but by then
your beak is sore, and your friends
are formulating an owl decal joke
at your expense, the owl decal on the window
that has sent you back to the trees

where you have to please the subtle
brown thing with qualities you’re not sure
you have. Tell us about the ceremony –
the seed you bring to her like a kiss,
the delicacy with which she accepts it.