Poems by Michael Day

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In the Neighborhood of Full Quiet

by Michael Day

From Canary Winter 2010-11

Michael lives at the eastern foot of Big Rock Ridge in the Miller Creek watershed of Marin County, California.

When wrenching winter wind and cloud let go their grip,
and gentle, steady rain begins to pat the roof,
a muffled sound goes out around the neighborhood,

and in a volant veer of wings, the ash tree fills
with voiceful robins. They listen to the patter
as they bathe and puck-puck preen and stretch and flap and

chup-chup fluff to wet their soft feathers to the skin.
They take turns dropping pik-pik to the ground beside
the compost pile. Down and fut-fut-fut they fall

to ransack leaves for worms, then chup-chup up they go
again. The ground is dark and full of worms, and all
of us will take our turn. For when the verge of dusk

slurs the air to full quiet, and muted robins
tuck their beaks into the night, itís to the worms we go
luck-luck when we and rain and air go soft and sleep.


by Michael Day

From Canary Spring 2011

          I spend a lot of time firmly in my boots on Big Rock Ridge, and when I get tired, I squat sometimes to stretch my back and look at things. Today I was looking at a callous on the bottom of my foot, when out of the stony dirt of the fire road, from a dozen exit-ways across the road around me, termites came flooding from their tunnels.

          They were crawling, half-inch puzzles of dull gloss wings and small dark heads. They pushed up into one another from below, nuzzling themselves into heaps, first a thousand, then two thousand more. What stirred them to boil into the gray light of this day’s rainy world? What started them after each other, all these males and females?

          As they softly swarmed into the size of hats, I marveled at their tactile love for one another. Antennae, faces, feet, and wings bumping and threading, licking and tasting. Glands exuding molecules of this-is-me, that-is-you, where-is-she? Then a piece of cloud

          broke loose, a gleam of sunlight struck the road, and all the startled nerves of all the waiting wings arose at once and instantly into the air. I stumbled up to watch the flying world go glittering away. They were such ghostly lights, the earth-born, back-lit hopes of termites.

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