Neruda’s Sixteen Finches

By | 1 February 2015

It’s difficult to see the glass ceiling because it’s made of glass. Virtually invisible. What we need is for more birds to fly above it and shit all over it, so we can see it properly. ― Caitlin Moran

Insanity.	Great affection.       Hand in hand. 	If your love is for animalia      then
this is the sign	    a sign that you will be judged  (can it be?) 	It’s only Hector Malot
thinking out loud inside your head.	Not so loud!	Neruda hears humming         a fragile
mind is more creative.		I see her travel with sixteen finches 	and a violin or two 	
no less	with a husband  or two     all fit side by side on a rack.      And her stance   strong
not at all unladylike	(captive) she holds	all the wild beasts	gather ‘round her

(lucky charm) like Orpheus 	sweetened by sixteen notes 	oh brother!       just for a lark 
Neruda seeds an idea	to be unshelled    tasted    spitting husks of insanity     to the finches
fine feathers 	not a sign that the bird can sing          no humming please	nor a fiddle
by name alone		befickled of reputation.		(I’ve overheard it said)      only a man 
or a lesbian 	could stroke those curves    make it sing so	(like a beast)	make the maker
redundant.	And behind his hand, hinted in the dark    you know   how she might as well

smoke enormous cigars          drink stout          play golf     (insane I hear) a rodent humming
rat-catching 	fetching finches           teach them all that as well           sixteen years of age.
Watch how the world would play  (make believe)  if not for Neruda   or the great painters. 
Hang the answer in the Halles   see the birdie in the picture    a goldfinch   go look for the 
sign! Bellini is there    copying a feminine figure onto canvas    curves out of the frame
(read an artist’s eye) 	a violin and a woman             bleed together          a medieval beast

mixed from the same oil.     No need for such humming	gentlemen (we’re English).
Remember that	the beak holds no more (significance) than the feather.	Sshh
The picture is speaking           (a beast) of grace          sixteen bunches of erase-me-nots.
Even the devil’s fiddler had an answer	      insanity of sorts          imitations of a donkey
swatch of horse hair 	this is the sign in defence of she          who would not be silenced 
(insulted)           those finches perched high on a single string (to whom do they belong?)

Yes, the witches will dance	on the grass	underneath the walnut tree (despite)
hubbub of howling            insane humming like tinnitus   a tribe of warriors	in your ear!
Give it time and you will see the sign	    (think back) how the fiddler fitted	    right into
the crowd of sixteen revellers (swooners)            black of dress, of hair, of eye, of bird.
The beast cries out   mad wicked folly    liberates finches and ladies (Victoria is not amused).
One by one          he creates a star in the midst          convenes a meeting of the weird sisters.

Sister	do not consent to be sung           only in the manner they wish (understand)      you
alone can cause your wooden lung to sing it real    listen     (Nicolo’s) little bell     beast
of kind reply	   for this is the sign	   hear your goldfinch   twitter at the tip of the steeple.
Strike the violin sixteen times in staccato	study in Italy (or France)            call home
any place where the Master prizes talent    above all humming   stride forward through time
insanity has a  magnificent portal       (with gilded cornices)        twelve foot mirrors.

I will foster a fine bowing arm   (fine beau on my arm)  keep sixteen finches and a humming
bird     sign of a beast.  My violin of tender years     kissed by the old fiddler    as if an ancient
Cremona at auction.  Delicious insanity! Witch be near me. Mirror me on the path of Neruda.

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