Paul Blackburn


The Voices, It's Cheap

October sun
a bright clean coolness
                                              On the building opposite
                                              shadow of pigeons
the circling flock ,  one breaks away, higher, building his
                   circle higher than the rest, but
                   will return
                   with them, re-
                   luctantly and late, but turning at last   .
the escort, not the leader, for those moments to
himself for those moments, flying apart, higher,
To whom
shall we have to answer for our actions, our
inactions? We prepare their deaths, their
rooftop landings by the coop our own and
in this sunny afternoon of sharp shadows
and blessed chill, my eyes
                                          rear backward like any mule, to watch, the ears
                     I cover with my hands a moment against the cold, hear
the song long dead, the sound of voices from another street in
a year long dead, my grandfather's twang, my mother's
elegant kind closed rumble, children's pitched cries calling me
out, that other time, voices
                 sound in this day of near-winter sun,
                                       I did not know I wanted to hear those voices :

"Can Paul come out, Mrs. Frost?" one shrill, one
look for approval, the guess, and dash for sweater, scarf, and coat.
                                          "Well, bundle up, then," another says
                                          I wanted to hear that, I wanted
:to     .     The bird flies upward against the brick and
does not stop, continues spiral over everything, and out   .
Will never stop . The door pulled open, the bright sun
crease about the eyes in a face frozen free, the
cold air strikes  .