Home > Poetry > Prophet Bird
Alfred Corn
Published: Wed Oct 15 1980
Art: Paul TheriaultEver New (detail), 2022, acrylic and found paper on scavenged wood
Prophet Bird


“They found the earth mute and passionless and left.”

        —Frank O’Hara

Your legend is still green with us, and avid
To demonstrate how you once scaled a mountain
Of orange-crates and “knocked them down,” how simply
Lifting and lighting became the Promethean blaze…
Now files of ants descend on their current
Windfall, gaining focus and perhaps a better grasp
Of the unlikely but all too portable whole,
Which you discarded in favor of newer stages,
Reluctant to lock up a plan next to its migrant
Double, the planetary warning, color of dried blood—
That impasse, too, was more than beginning
To dim and accept a kinder remnant of
Intention: the leaves turn when they fall.
We have our wishes for you still, the few
That find a rough-hewn, vine-covered lodging
For their chattels under the foothills near
Healing, variably heated springs. The ayes
And your hardly won singlings-out of praise
Befriend you for now, knowing you, enkindled
Early starling, first befriended them.

See what's inside AGNI 13

Alfred Corn has published nine books of poetry, a novel, a collection of critical essays, and a study of prosody. He has received fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Academy of American Poets, the Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, and others. (updated 6/2010)

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