Poem 16: Songs my father taught me


A bird in a tree sings
the music off by heart
taught by its father

Its father before that
on stout and spikey branches
sang songs its father knew

The early morning light
seeping through trees and leaves
is inspiration

The modern bird
with no unplaced feather
introduces a wrong note

The cacophony of the times
echoes through early mornings
and gives no rest

Correct your note silly bird
and sing your father’s melodies
wrought in the time of dinosaurs

30 thoughts on “Poem 16: Songs my father taught me

  1. Nitin

    This poem can be interpreted in so many different ways, but it’s your sense of humour that shines through, just like it does in a lot of your work.

  2. Cynthia Jobin

    This is so beautiful in its simplicity, and yet not simple at all. It reminds me of the poetry of William Carlos Williams, who was at the forefront in creating and using the triversen in 20th century American Poetry. A clean, clear simplicity of form belies the complexity of thought; As Nitin says above, there are many ways one can construe meaning here. One of my favorite is to say it’s a poem about itself….among other things. I really like it, Bruce.

    1. Bruce Goodman Post author

      Thanks, Cynthia. I found online (parts of) Turco’s Handbook of Poetics that you recommended. And the William Carlos Williams triversen was the first “form” I came across- so this is my effort! So I’m thrilled you like it!

  3. thecontentedcrafter

    I thought of Dylan Thomas [knowing nothing of what you and Cynthia speak – such a talented and learned pair!] I don’t know why I thought of Thomas, nor why I heard Richard Burton’s voice speak, before I listened to yours …… perhaps this poem is really for the Welsh birds? The birds here still sing in tune I think – or at least, I have not noticed any discord in their morning or evening trills…………….. I really like this poem Bruce!

  4. arlingwoman

    Isn’t it funny how you can hear someone speaking something when they aren’t? Sometimes something lends itself to a voice. The poem does seem to come from another time, though–maybe its structure? In any event, I can see it being interpreted several ways as well. I see this little bird flying off to experiment with twelve tone music and dissonant harmonies!

    1. Bruce Goodman Post author

      Nothing demands less of a wrong note than 12-tone music! It can’t afford to have a note out. But we shall call the bird Schoenberg nonetheless for it’s wild departure from traditional music!


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