Poem or Pheasant

“A poem is a pheasant.” Wallace Stevens

I poached one, hauled it home in a linen bag,
recognizing it as that fowl of old novels,
hybrid of peasant and pleasant and feh.

It was camouflaged in self-awareness and sensory detail,
a nutritious meal wrapped in babble.
I rousted it then vowed to set twenty more

loose in my backyard to dash
across the grass and burp out trills
while my bard’s heart beat alliteration and floating feathers.

I planned a fence so high the flock would have to stay put,
since life without them would be a scrappy landscape
pocked with armadillo holes.

You know how this ends—
with the gate left open and the feudal phrases flown.
Oh, poetry, be my bird untrapped, my strut in the forest;
show me how far you can roam.

Off the Coast, Summer 2016