Recorded for Poem-a-Day, February 12, 2019.
About this Poem 

“What is the ‘thinking voice’ of a lyric poem? In this work, I’m playing with both the notion that a lyric might be what is in parentheses, and with the notion that a poem needs to move through levels of thinking. I’ve got dogs (three, not two), and possums die, and I feel bad, so in some sense the poem’s autobiographical. However, if I’ve done my job, the content here might be about more than me, given how the poem gestures toward wonder, the irrational, and the ebullient as an embrace of beauty. I’m also interested in the idea that a person is like a single thought in the universe—writing helps me clarify and distill this possibility, poem by poem.”
—Alan Michael Parker

When I Am a Hummingbird

I love two dogs, even when they’re killing
a baby possum near the columbines,
shaking the varmint
until the death squeal chokes to a gargle,
 
and both dogs stand before the bloody marsupial
nosing it to move,
 
because that’s Nature, right?
(And whom did I just ask whether that was right?)
(And what’s a moral quandary for a possum?)
 
I love the dog who leans,
matter-of-fact in her need,
and the big smile of the small Pit Bull.
 
But when I am a hummingbird, finally,
I will beat my wings
eighty times per second,
 
thousands of seconds
and eighty thousands and thousands
 
of my splendiferous beating wings,
faster than all of the eighty thousand
beautiful things in the world,
 
and no one will stop me or catch me
or take my picture, I will be too fast,
 
and I will dive into the meat
of the possum
and beat there,
the mean, bloody thing alive again.

Copyright © 2019 by Alan Michael Parker. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 12, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2019 by Alan Michael Parker. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 12, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

Alan Michael Parker

Alan Michael Parker

Alan Michael Parker is the author of several books, including The Ladder (Tupelo Press, 2016).

by this poet

poem
When revelation comes, the God of Draperies 
Cannot decide the difference 

Between in and out. 
A patio is out though in a yard, he thinks, 

Nursing his ignorance 
And a mostly gone Tom Collins, 

The sunshine and the cicadas and the loveliness 
Competing for his rage. 

But a car
poem
What was he saying and to whom?
With a silver thermos he left the building;
He paused in the courtyard and turned.
What was he saying and to whom?

The building at dawn not yet a building
Paused the way all buildings do.
What was he saying and to whom?

Time doesn't stop; time doesn't wait;
Time has never moved