Flying from the south in two big ragged Vs
they meld, first into one bigger W and then
a final, single V, northbound. Wind picking up,
the dead brown of last year’s oak leaves, magnolias’
leathery green, nudged upward, pointing to where I look.
Is it that wind—a headwind I can’t see but guess at—
that makes them wheel, 360, before heading north
again? Or is it the little flock they’ve seen to the east,
some hundred feet below them, two hundred feet behind,
quawwk-quawwking as they climb, wings beating
it seems twice as fast as those ahead, above them.
Soon, they merge into one even grander V,
spread out three hundred feet above the framing
pines. Perhaps at this gray fag end of a February day,
they already see their home far away from home:
a watery smudge somewhere among those endless pines
that I, too, can see now. Without quite seeing.
The Second Coming, Part II
But when the birds are gone, and their warm fields
Return no more, where, then, is paradise?
—Wallace Stevens, “Sunday Morning”
It was a second Pentecost, fires of self-sufficiency
playing around the faces of the once-moribund
while the tongues they heard spoken were,
at the same time, familiar yet remote. Not the sober
glossolalia of Latin and medieval Latin and New
Latin slickly glossed by tonsured interpreters
of All Things Holy. No. The hearers were astounded:
they wondered how hear we every man in our own tongue,
wherein we were born?
But now, it’s said the churches where Luther preached
and where Calvin preached are as quiet and as solemn
on any Sabbath as on a Tuesday. The curious Sunday tourists
are even more curious about the few diehards
they find there, the white-headed and the credulous,
come to drink the same old wine from the same old skins.
That shopworn vernacular once held holy,
once the very Grail itself.
Hamlet’s come back home from Wittenberg
to attend a funeral. But he’s too late. And far too serious
about things. They tell him to lighten up,
that everybody loses somebody or something
he cares about, eventually.
Lee Passarella served as senior literary editor for Atlanta Review magazine, editor of Kentucky Review magazine, and editor-in-chief of Coreopsis Books, a poetry-book publisher. He also writes classical music reviews for Audiophile Audition.
Passarella’s poetry has appeared in Chelsea, Cream City Review, Louisville Review, The Formalist, Antietam Review, Journal of the American Medical Association, The Literary Review, Edge City Review, The Wallace Stevens Journal, Snake Nation Review, Umbrella, Slant, Cortland Review, and many other periodicals and ezines.
Swallowed up in Victory, Passarella’s long narrative poem based on the American Civil War, was published by White Mane Books in 2002. It has been praised by poet Andrew Hudgins as a work that is “compelling and engrossing as a novel.” Passarella’s has published two poetry collections: The Geometry of Loneliness (David Robert Books, 2006) and Redemption (FutureCycle Press, 2014). Passarella also has two poetry chapbooks: Sight-Reading Schumann (Pudding House Publications, 2007) and Magnetic North(Finishing Line Press, 2016).