The Mockingbird on the Buddha

by Barbara Hamby

Barbara Hamby

The mockingbird on the Buddha says, Where’s my seed,
you Jezebel, where’s the sunshine in my blue sky,
where’s the Hittite princess, Pharaoh’s temple, where’s the rain
for the misery I love so much? The mockingbird
on the Buddha scolds the tree for trying to stay straight
in the hurricane of words blowing out of the cold north,
wind like screams, night like brandy on the dark cut of my heart.
The mockingbird on the Buddha, music is his life,
he hears the tunes of the universe, cacophony of calypso,
hacking cough in the black lung of desire; he’s ruddy
with lust, that sweet stepping puffed-up old grey bird o’ mine.
The mockingbird on the Buddha says, Eat up
while the night is young. Have some peach cobbler, girl,
have some fried oysters, have some Pouligny
Montrachet, ma chère, for the night is coming, and you need meat
on your bones to ride that wild horse. The mockingbird
on the Buddha says, It’s time for a change, little missy. You’ve
been in charge too long. It’s time for the bird
to take over, because he stays up late, knows what night can be,
past 12, past two, when trouble’s dark and beautiful.
You never knew what hit you, and that’s the best feeling
in the whole wide world. The mockingbird
on the Buddha makes his nest inside my brain: he looks good
in grey, gets fat on thought, he’s my enemy,
my Einstein, my ever-loving monkey boy, every monkey thought
I blame on him, every night so sweet my body breaks
apart like a Spanish galleon raining gold on the ocean floor.

Last updated November 11, 2022