Green Hills Literary Lantern

Stockholm Rock: A Semi-Oral History

 

I played a guitar

            shaped like a rutabaga

in a band called The Snaggerz.

            I sang like a turnip.

They loved us in Sweden

            though it was hard to tell.

The Swedes threw artfully designed

            pillows at us. We fell asleep.

Records were recorded.

            The band broke up

when Sweden turned against

            its root vegetables.

I played a rutabaga

            just so I could say the word

rutabaga. The dance craze

            was premature.

 

 

 

 

First Hummingbird

Hummingbirds are continuously hours away from starving to death, and are able to store just enough energy to survive overnight.

 

I was a grown man before I saw my first,

the mad flush and flurry and disappear

of it. The startle of it. The did you see

of it. We were alone and not alone

in the dried red flower of August heat

of our mad affair in the hills

we called mountains, in the woods

we called forest, in the fields

we called meadows.

 

In Detroit I had seen:

Sparrow. Robin. Crow.

Lost gulls in the black sea

of the A&P parking lot.

Cardinals were remarked upon

as miracle. Maybe a blue jay.

All brown birds were sparrows.

Pigeons. I saw pigeons.

 

Alone, I saw it. She who had seen many

did not. She who knew the names of birds

and flowers and trees and addictive drugs.

In the woods of West Virginia.

In the rental cabin that took only cash.

 

I am not a watcher of birds

but I felt a hummingbird tremor—

sudden lust, mad beating, mad.

A bird. Like that. Nectar.

 

Her husband, concerned.

Reception, spotty. She left

her sweater behind. Fled.

 

The tiniest birds. The only ones

that fly backward.

like that.

 

 

 

Jim Daniels’ new book of poems, Birth Marks, was published by BOA Editions in 2013. His next book of short fiction, Eight Mile High, will be published by Michigan State University Press in 2014. A native of Detroit, Daniels teaches at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.