August 19, 2012 in Features

American Life in Poetry

Ted Kooser U.S. poet laureate, 2004-’06
 

A while back, we published a poem about a mockingbird, but just because one poet has written a poem about something, he or she doesn’t hold rights to the subject in perpetuity. Here’s another fine mockingbird poem from Carol V. Davis, who lives in Los Angeles. Mockingbird II

    How perfectly he has mastered

the car alarm, jangling us from sleep.

    Later his staccato scatters smaller birds

that landed on the wire beside him.

    Perhaps the key to success

is imitation, not originality.

    Once, when the cat slinked up

the orange tree and snatched a hatchling,

    the mockingbird turned on us,

marked us for revenge.

    For two whole weeks he dive bombed

whenever I ventured out the screen door

    lured by his call: first tricked into thinking

the soft coo was a mourning dove courting,

    next drawn by the war cry of a far larger animal.

He swooped from one splintered eave, his mate from the other,

    aiming to peck out my eyes, to wrestle

the baby from my arms, to do God knows what

    with that newborn.

Poem copyright 2008 by Carol V. Davis, from ”Between Storms” (Truman State University Press, 2012) and is reprinted by permission of the author and publisher. American Life in Poetry is supported by The Poetry Foundation and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.


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