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Two poems by Nicholas Laughlin

First published in Boston Review, May/June 2007

A Name for This Bird

This one, trapped like a stone in the boiling stream.

Boiling in its own weather, as the trees
boil in the rain, whipping till they bleed.

Boiling in the mouth of its own rage,
each nerve boiled till white & clean as a blade.

Each vein gulps till green as the leaf that thrives
in the smoke of the rain. Each claw wet & alive.

Caught in the teeth of stars, a knot of bones
& string & burning hair & one clutched stone

nailed like a heretic in a field of salt,
greedy for the flame, the crack, the leap, the fall.

This one, small & dangerous as a seed.

• • •

Dreams Like a Bird

Dreams like a bird of impulse: throb & leap,
joy like a thorn, motive stripped to speed,
dreams of fall & pause & ache & fling
& sob, breasting up the tide of winds,
a tiny stinging heart thrust through the rain,
red as a star & hot as the spar of a blade
& ravenous as a stone slung stung & true
as the press of a pulse, gulp & strain & swoon,
grateful for the great of the air, its heat
& hurry, its height & heft, dreams of greed
for forthward, blood & breath shot sheer
till breath is needless, blood the same as air,
thought this thoughtless arc, this vault & veer,
heartless, perfect, perilous, unaware.

• • •

Read more poems by Nicholas Laughlin