- 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.]

 

Tom La Farge is the author of The Crimson Bears, A Hundred Doors, Terror of Earth, and Zuntig, The Broken House, Maznoona, and Humans By Lamplight. He lives and writes in Flatbush, Brooklyn.

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