David Moolten




“…it seems as though the singer’s throat will burst from the sheer force…”
—N.F. Leopold, Meeting of the American Ornithological Union, 1924

We study things ad absurdum, those with wings
our cousins or so the DNA testifies,
the brilliant teen birder
who crushes another boy’s skull
a rare bird in Chicago high society. The warbler
only nests beneath half-grown pines. Lord, grant us refuge
from the phrase, “crime of the century,”
the night still young, any newspaper a field guide.
The evidence included shots
of him crawling through mud
to let one eat from his hand. He knew five tongues,
lectured on flight, dropped his glasses at the scene.
Darrow could have put the closing to music,
the not quite extinct notes, the right hand
evil though the left stroked his lover’s hair.
The killer got life, the less equivocal,
the more desperate as with longing or faith
in our ability to explain. Solomon, it’s said
spoke the language of birds,
in it the source of his wisdom,
a fistful of fluff, a wild shuddering ounce.


DAVID MOOLTEN’s most recent book, Primitive Mood (2009), won the T. S. Eliot Award from the Truman State University Press. He lives & writes in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


Read more by David Moolten:

Author’s website
Poem in Shenandoah
Poem in Blackbird
Poem in Air&Space