But I am old and you are young
And I speak a barbarous tongue. – Yeats
I tried to warn them, but from my beak
they would receive nothing. They saw baldness,
but that was adaptation. The building seethes
in the winter, freezes in the fall.
They took our committee for a wake,
pleasant voices for gospel,
but when it’s drought, the wall writes itself.
From one who grieved her mother too long,
one for being gay, one who couldn’t skip
Bonnaroo, one Ivy who couldn’t hack it,
one naive who drove girls home, & one unkempt
who sat dutifully but too sour with his charges,
meals to pick clean. The feathers
from their affections: biographies, anthologies,
DVDs, tape rolls, ballpoints, ancillaries,
master texts I’d shadowed over. Flesh to digest
before they whet another veteran.
I let my brood claw the marrow:
markers, copy paper; teaching them
remnants of the habitat are fuel
for ones who know the season’s scarcities;
shred the remainder without sentiment.
This is how our desert divides, &
will again in August, as clean-winged
fledglings settle in to make a home of it.
Their dreaming will be my inheritance.
Max Heinegg is the author of Good Harbor, (forthcoming spring 2022), which won the inaugural Paul Nemser Prize from Lily Poetry Press. His poems have appeared in 32 Poems, Thrush, The Cortland Review, Nimrod, and Columbia Poetry Review. He has been nominated for Best of the Net, and The Pushcart Prize, won the Sidney Lanier poetry prize, the Emily Stauffer poetry prize, and has been a finalist for the poetry prizes of Crab Creek Review, December Magazine, Cultural Weekly, Cutthroat, Rougarou, Asheville Poetry Review, the Nazim Hikmet prize, and Twyckenham Notes. By day, he is a high school English teacher, a singer-songwriter, and by night, a recording artist whose records can be heard at http://www.maxheinegg.com