My husband, Brent Hendricks, wrote the poem I post below in around 2004, when we were living near the deep woods of Western Massachusetts. We had a neighbor whose tree house was on an island in the middle of a wetland in the woods behind our house. He let us sit on the dock whenever we wanted to, and there we’d listen to the redwing blackbirds.
“Queen of Diamonds” was published in The New Review of Literature in Spring 2005. It is part of Brent’s new deck of card poems. I’m posting this telepathic poem, one of my favorites of his, for all the dead birds of 2011 so far. [There are supposed to be stanza breaks in the poem, but I'm having trouble getting the site to put them in. Will continue to fix and apologies, Brent.]
This: Brent Hendricks
Queen of Diamonds
Today birds are dropping from trees,
wires, leaping from rooftops and
Like some divine reverse
of the rapture they’re
falling, hitting the pavement with tiny
thuds. Of course everyone feels bad about it
and the news says they’re crazy
but who isn’t crazy? People have different problems
and so can birds. And for me personally
it’s not the way they do it — folding their wings
on the edge of whatever
and just letting go.
It’s the sound
drives me crazy,
I hate that little hollow-
boned thud. But
really, I’ve always loved birds.
I even had a dog who loved birds so much
he killed cats . . . I loved that dog.
And along the same lines
I wish I’d held more birds in my hands –
the few I did were so light and sweet, very
So I loved my dog and I love birds.
I’m already tired of a world without birds.
Brent Hendricks is a graduate of Harvard Law School and the MFA program at the University of Arizona. He is the author of Thaumatrope (Action Books, 2007) and his work has appeared in a number of magazines, including Black Warrior Review, Bomb, Conjunctions, Iowa Review, Ploughshares, Poetry, Prairie Schooner and Tarpaulin Sky.