Bird Droppings

by Carl Nelson (May 2023)

The Garden Of Armida
, John Collier, 1899



Bird Droppings

…for poetry makes nothing happen —Auden

… leave a record, real evidence.
I must have over 700 poems,
like paintball strikes all over the office.
The place looks like a sour cream lover’s pizza.
The meanings I have scrawled!

Poets are spurned in this manner,
by their own material, all the time.
It’s a common schoolyard game,
in which the Furies circle like jackals.

So, like a crazy person the poet really must
decide for themselves what is real, what is good—
Kick the meds!
And then stick with it.

First, make nothing happen. And then,
make nothing even more pressing.
Stare at the reader like a void,
until it’s almost stalking.  When finally,
at 701 poems, they squeal, “Uncle!”



Virtue Signaling 

Virtue is getting sliced so thin, you can see through it. —Prior Frances

Virtue has gotten so cheapened, as has sin,
through the inflationary practice of therapy-speak,
that God, Himself, might not recognize merit,
or Saint Peter parse them so as to assign judgment.
And lines of complaining and sniveling heaven bound
are loitering before the Gates
where boxes of tissues are being handed about.

The Bible, first of its kind
in the Self Help category,
is feeling the pressure nowadays
from its contemporary competitors,
who contest its Biblical narratives,
factual vetting, and its general
‘outmoded theory of Evil’,
plus the priestly confessional
which is now felt unnecessary due to
current advances in patient/doctor privilege.


Table of Contents


Carl Nelson has just finished a book of memoirs and poetry celebrating his current area of Appalachia titled Become Remarkable. To see this and more of his work, please visit Magic Bean Books.

Follow NER on Twitter @NERIconoclast


2 Responses

  1. Well, the best is of course the enemy of the good; and with experience comes improvement, so by that logic a poem #701 should indeed be better than #700. But it does not always work that way (and if fact, almost never does — chronology is a very bad guide for appreciating writer’s work, and progress is hardly a matter of chronology)… And I would disagree too that “poetry makes nothing happen.” It makes thoughts happen, opening people’ minds to what they were unaware of before — at times even causing revolutions (and plenty of patriotism — think of all the patriotic songs!). I guess I am just not in the “art for arts’ sake” camp!

    But I absolutely love the second poem — and would add to it that our “progress” turned so much of what was sinful into what is normal that what’s there to confess anyway? Sin getting normalized, there is no such thing as sin any more! This poem an eye-opener — and you say “poetry makes nothing happen,” LOL!

    1. Thanks Lev. I always loved Auden’s saying, because it can be taken two ways: The first is that poetry causes no effect in the world; has no agency. But in the second interpretation, the poet is like God, pulling consciousness from the void.

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