- Poetry, Reading, Writing

Ode from a Mockingbird, by Tom La Farge

 

1.
Tu fritchyoo wenk wenk chooble-chooble-dee
Chebeck tzabira cheeva queedle whoo,
Chyoo kuk kuk kuk tzee! kuk kuk kuk wee!
Tree tree chup turdle chyoo gidik koo
Perchick quaquergo wika tupa tzip.
Kuh pippit pippit kuh per chick-a-ree
Tip tu fritchyoo pik swee raddika yah
Za turdle turdle kip —
Pik oodle oodle tchktchee zeedle quaa
Koodle kuh koodle kuh yah conkaree.

[Bird-phonemes matched to Keats’ scansion and rhyme-scheme.]

2.
See if it’s ticking! Sweet-heart! Tout de suite!
Who’s awake? Here I am, here here I am!
Why don’t you spit and see if I care, Pete?
Water’s hot, drink your tea, did he? Poor Sam.
Radical curly spring of the year here,
Why don’t you come to me, tsunami-sweet?
Chicago whiskey, ravioli too,
My evening brigadier.
Potato chip, who cooks for you? Pick beet-
-Les off old ladies, teacher, hurry. Where are you?

[Birdsong mnemonic phrases matched to Keats’ scansion and rhyme-scheme.]

3.

Dare all-away, I do, and pleased to meet
What we among the trees will quickly chew
The radical, the pizza, and the sweet
Here, where it’s singing, Phoebe, where are you?
Where turtles sip a quick blue nice old beer,
Where mice say “Baby!” “Beetle-wit!” and “See?”
Where but to drink is to see cows on fire
And whirring-winged McGreer;
Where nice old fellows dare a curly whee,
And blind cats sing to shoes in wheezy choir.

[words and phrases from birdsong mnemonics inserted into scansion and syntax of third stanza.]

 

John Madera's fiction may be found in Conjunctions, Opium Magazine, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His criticism may be found in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, John Madera lives in New York City, where he runs Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.

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