Do not make me your prey.
Choose another battle,
for I am your soldier
with your greatest and least force.
Leave me in the battle fields
and in the pastures
to sing you.
Do not make me your game.
On a journey farther than time
you are my heart's love child,
returning your body to love.
And, in the vacant places it sings.
—Radovan Pavlovski, translated from Macedonian by Nola Garrett and Natasha Garrett
from GOD OF THE MORNING (1991)
Landscape with Six Plastic Flamingos
Like childbirth, this crisis is of my own choosing
made one passionate Saturday morning six
days and nine months ago when words
alone were useless. My searching for
relief from the self's dictionary with another
has come this nexus--a pink sestina--
though mid-labor it seems the sestina,
like a pick-up football team, has done the choosing.
Will they throw me the ball? Am I just another
skinny, neighbor kid chosen because six
against seven are not enough for
a game? My team calls me Snake Lips, words
that hurt because they're true. My words
slither around in the dream that is sestina,
a kind of pink story I make for
the man who lanscapes with plastic flamingos, choosing
not art, he says, but what he likes. Six
constitutes a flamingo quorum--another
small scantling for maintaining another
sort of peace. His flamingos and my words
could be anywhere, curving out in six
directions, void and cold--the mind's sestina
a chaos. It's the glory of choosing, choosing
anything, that frees and shapes us for
our lorn, featherless flight. I look for
words. They're sea shells--here's one, here's another--
fix, coral, rampion, charismatic, tame, wing--choosing
some for shape, some for sound. These words
toss, jostle, ping, loop, unravel until sestina
pinks them. They're integrated, six
flamingos browsing, no longer at sixes
and sevens, knees bent the wrong way for
humans, though just right for a sestina
about the mind's plastic shore: another
landscape of blood, salt and words
that fancies pink, aritfical birds choosing
flight--another sestina for six words' choosing.
previously appeared in Cimarron Review, 1996