Sunday Poem

With so many tellers a tale never remains faithful to what it was.
It becomes a game.
.. —Roshi Bob


A mockingbird
perched on the hood
of a payphone
half-buried in a hedge
of wild rose
and heard it ring

The clapper ball
trilled between
brass gongs
for two seconds
then wind
and then again

With head cocked
the bird took note
absorbed the ringing
deep in its throat
and frothed
an ebullient song

The leitmotif
the bright alarm
recurred in a run
from hawk
to meadowlark
from May to early June

The ringing spread
from syrinx to syrinx
from Kiowa
to Comanche to Clark
till someone

finally picked it up
and heard a voice
on the other end
say Konza
or Consez or Kansa
which the French trappers
heard as Kaw

which is only the sound
of a word for wind
then only the sound of wind.

by Devin Johnston
Poetry Magazine, 2014