House Sparrow

in response to a painting by Clive Hicks-Jenkins, Paper Garden

They said you were blue
so I got you a card.
It sings when you open it.
The clouds move, & the usual
stars & crickets: a card
like a garden, missing only
the mated pair of primates
flinging their feces at some snake.
I’ve just flown out from the tree
beside the tree beside the tree
& there you are, your eye on
my hugger-mugger life.
I have to say
you’re beginning to creep me out.
Where did that enormous
coffee mug come from
& why is it wearing a leopard’s spots?
And God, much as I appreciate
you holding my world in
your mitt, I have to ask:
whose damn blue egg is that?

17 Comments


    1. Glad you got a laugh out of it! Quite aside from the question of whether it succeeds as a poem, I feel satisfied at being able to convey a couple of things about monotheism in general and Christianity in particular that do in fact creep me out.

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    2. I also needed to get as far from Seamus Heaney as possible here, whence in part the tone.

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  1. “Hugger-mugger”: especially like that. And the twisting about of meaning. Re-reading, re-construction.

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    1. Thanks, Marly. I was pleased with that word, too — and for what it’s worth, it came out of a B.S. session on Facebook.

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      1. Mother Teresa-hugger Malcolm Muggeridge, who floridly recanted agnostic views in his old age, would be appalled. (N.B. that he taught in India in mid-20’s, and perhaps witnessed remnant Thuggee thuggery.)

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  2. Dave, I’m really delighted to hear that your poems will be included in Clive’s exhibition. This is a fruitful co-laboration (ie: independent labour of love on both sides) – bravo to both.

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    1. Thanks. Yeah, I’m pretty jazzed about it too. One thing that’s great about writing poems for Clive’s paintings is, the man really loves poetry — to the point of memorizing and reciting it. It’s rare to find that kind of interest these days among anyone who is not himself a poet.

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  3. fantastic! i really love this, i am most taken by the tone of it. you gave a whole new life to the painting, and it made my day!

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    1. Hi Zoe – I’m glad you liked that! I always figure if you can’t be deep, you might as well be fun. :)

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  4. A zany poem, bird, and painting! Great stuff! A lot of attitude. :-)

    The painting and the poem would make a good moving poem combo, too.

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    1. Interesting suggestion! I’m not sure we could convince Clive to take up animation, though.

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