Poems by Alex Cigale

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For the Birds: An Appreciation

by Alex Cigale

From Canary Winter 2010-11

Alex was born on the Prut (Western Ukraine,) grew up on the Neva (Leningrad,) went to college on the Huron (Michigan,) lives mostly along the river called North (NYC on the Hudson) in which each summer he swims, but is intimate with the river of grass (the Everglades) and the Red River (Colorado), where he is most alive.

A sparrow cautiously dipping its breast
on stone slabs of an artificial waterfall
where water circulates and returns aerated
to the fishpond fringed with sedge and lilies

Tentative daubs several times forward
each dip distinct and separate pausing
to listen in alarm head raised between
sounds bending it off again to one side

Always the left like a child’s wind-up toy
at each traffic noise above the general din
then for some twenty seconds submerges
bodily in the stream in complete abandon

His sense of joy or if not joy then play
and if not play then of ease or relief
nearly palpable at the end he lifts
heavily and flits heavenward across

The garden’s length to the tallest fir tree
the added weight of the water giving
his blunt progress through the air the dipping
and rising motion of a woodpecker

Among the narcissi and the crocuses
in the still barren heather garden the
first tulips have come out perking up in
bunches their four boxy tip-curled petals

White and orange with red tongues as if
their throats wide open to drink gleefully
the growing sunlight like fledglings
rooting noisily about in their nests

In the garden this morning I observe
the attempts of a pigeon to swallow
half of a peanut the size of his brain
again and again he reorients it

The long way to get his jaw around to
direct and gulp it down into his craw
exhausted by the effort he seeks out
shade and security under a bench

He’s the image and epitome of greed
expending attention and energy
becoming vulnerable innumerable
calculations we make instinctively

The Idea of Disorder in Key West

by Alex Cigale

From Canary Fall 2011

Land that began as a mound of seashells.
Million-year accumulation of coral sand.
A profusion of palms and poinsettias.
Querulous cacophony of grackles.
Common, flagrant commotion of starlings.
The hawk’s arrow-like peregrination.
Pelican’s headlong pummeling plummet.
Cormorants, vultures, ospreys, and sea gulls.
Clutches of Rhode Island Reds, hens with chicks.
Rock jetty breakwaters projecting from beach.
Lighthouse and keeper’s cottage half-mile inland.
Speedboats thrashing past cruise ships, scheduled flights.
The offshore oil platforms that aren’t yet there.
In reverse order, erase the inessential.

Previously published in Tar River Poetry.

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