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Listening to Black Birds


eye listen to a flock of black birds jamboreeing high up
in the large mango tree in my backyard in guadeloupe,
wonder what they are jabbering about hidden
within lengthening shadows of twilight approaching darkness
spreading its wings like these birds when they take flight,

their jabbering reminds me of black people gathered on corners
underneath my window in harlem during summers running down
whatever game their jazzy, jambalaya language offers up
as food for thought—the loud insistent slap of dominoes hitting tables,
spiced with boasts of men—women, too—who have mastered
the sarcastic lingo of tongue-in-cheek put-downs mixed
with salt & pepper wisdom saucing up air around the game,

eye have always loved listening to language like this improvising
solos spit from lips—or beaks when talking about black birds—dripping
syllables popping through firecracker sentences dropping neologic words,
sounds into everyday lexicon of hip oral speech—language
has always been the fuel driving duende/music of my poetry,

but these black birds are a special case since eye can't enter
the meaning of their language—are they happy or mad, hungry
or sad, making fun of humans like me listening to them perplexed,
trying to decipher—translate—their intricate jabbering music
packed with jackhammer rhythms—a language so high-pitched,
so insistent it seems close to frenzy, as if they were discussing
important topics to themselves, relevant to survival of the globe,

perhaps what they are jabbering about is crucial for us, too,
though how would we humans know since few of us listen,
or even hear anything we say to each other
when it comes to important matters
like, for instance, the waging of eternal war
pollution of the planet with oil—what about the gulf of mexico, alaska—
the politics of corruption by outright bribery, runaway, rampant greed—
the list of human deafness goes on & on, dominates the sordid,
sad history throughout the blindness of the world,

so why would one think anyone would pause to listen to black birds
jamboreeing high up in a mango tree in guadeloupe,
jabbering away about whatever in their jackhammer rhythms,
in a high-pitched language so insistent it seems close to frenzy

perhaps a poet like me—or you—would listen to that language
possibly holding mystery, magic, beauty, if only for clues
we may decipher from secrets these black birds might know—
the boasts of men—women, too—who are masters of the sarcastic
lingo of tongue-in-cheek put-downs, the wisdom saucing the air
surrounding the insistent slap of dominoes smacking tables—

what the language could offer up for me or you—if you are
out there—perhaps, is a thread, a possible connection, where
we might locate our spirits in a common, fertile space, where words,

language might be the glue holding communities together in place


Quincy Troupe

Errançities
Coffee House Press


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