Secret death of birds

writing in airplanes

The birds of earth are called
to die in secret ritual
high, high above upon rooftops unseen

their wings’ last heaving, landing a silent perch
cooing in faint gurgle, eyes gently closing,
heads pulled inward,

their bodies then transformed
to dust by God –
never seen, never recorded

leaving us with nothing
to prove the secret of their deaths
only the fresh new flocks
that must return to earth each year

This poem was first published in Harpoon Review, December 2014.

©Daniel von der Embse

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who’s on vacation ,who’s from out of town

orange bikini
doing the breast stroke
her husband in orange shorts

their father’s towel
bright orange also
my least favorite color

disliked since small child
loving fresh orange juice
but not loving the hives

every vacation
until you were twenty eight
and not knowing why

segway into
mr. who’s on vacation
who’s from out of town here

only ten people
but he’s going to give us
a really big show

mr who’s on vacation
is the best, wish that
i knew his real name

birds are arriving
they love to listen to him
gay tweeting along

“just a gigilo”
“i ain’t got nobody
nobody cares for me”

actually the birds
really didn’t care for that
so they flew away

“you’re once twice
three times a birdie to me”
three just landed right in front

while you were writing
had no idea where you were
going with that one

then they helped us out
saw you were writing about them
so they came back


” just a gigilo
just rock to the melody
please remember me ”


lizard loves elvis , i love yankees


they aren’t bashful
so adorable when they speak
pop and fresh dough squeeze

hiring a third guy
they’re driving from nine to nine
doesn’t stop to look

what are stop signs for
he doesn’t show up three times
the first week for work

seventy years old
has to drive for twelve hours
but she enjoys work

last week a rain storm
waited forty five minutes
then began swimming

appearing he’d wrecked
in the grass at pool entrance
next to my condo

quiet new jersey
mother of three yelled at him
to “wake the _ _ _ _ up”

“and take us home”
you can pull out in front of cars
but you cannot sleep

and the line was drawn
thought they would let him do
whatever he wanted

my lizard is back
came out to hear “all shook up”
so perfectly still

birds fly next to him
listening on top of rail
really loves elvis

ran up to see me
“let me be your teddy bear”
“and i love you so”

1 2 3 4 5
tiny birds landing seconds
uncle marvin gaye


volley ball sand bird


many times over
burying your head in sand
splashing grains around

brown thrasher troubles
why are you bathing in sand
is this new fashion

back scratching technique
your way to play volleyball
volley sand for one

“Brody take a bite
of your hot dog you won’t
have any energy”

“you’ll have to go upstairs
and take a nap you won’t
be able to play”

what a cute way
telling your child to eat dinner
thinking on his feet

i ate everything
no one had to ask me twice
except that one time

sardine sandwiches
thinking it was tuna fish
at my father’s store

my mother brought lunch
glad i’m vegetarian
give seagull sardines

Brody hates hot dogs
jamie livingston ate four
my birthday cook out

father and husband
could eat them every single day
if you let them

they would rather go
to a restaurant with hot dogs
than anywhere else


silly summer sitters & a british ankle


synchronized flying
flapping formation follow
eight seagulls in line

their dance recital
as much fun to watch as perform
“they’ve got the beat”

two college girls
sitting behind me singing
a song they just made up

” do you want to paint
a seashell or paint a birdhouse
for five dollars”

“it doesn’t have to be
a seashell but we only
have each other”

i can’t believe
they made the song seventeen syllables
just for me

you can paint my toenails
because i woke up with
sciatica pain

from crossing my legs
i should not have done this
but me heel feels broken

they borrowed my pen
so i have to stop thinking
impossible task

“he’s a bad mamma jamma”
and he doesn’t even know
what this means


* this might be funny
when she comes back from sweden
inaugurate song

selfie, scotch & lizard


“there goes selfie
you know who I’m talking about”
posing with her camera

green anode lizard
playing marco polo with me
for four weeks now

hope you are alright
petsmart will give us your twin
for seven fifty

swirling in your head
you can feel the vitamins
milk chocolate atkins

there’s butterscotch
scotch magic tape scotch on the rocks
and love on the rocks

jumps from bench to lounge
chirp whack o molE’ has forgotten
how to fly

he did it again
but this time he looks at me
first before he leaps

now he’s contemplating
jumping into the pool
potato chip thirst

you can put yourself
into mind of animals
know their desires

I’m “sending out
an SOS to you” my favorite
lizard mate



can two grown homes
live together in a third dwelling
that’s the question

will not be able
to reach the computer
on top of the Ice Box)



p.s. last email ” we will be there between 12-2 tomorrow. we could not fit everything on the truck. (uhoh – large 18 wheeler -major moving company) we had to leave a table & 30 boxes behind, but will bring them after the holidays…

Pearl not only an oyster

three people standing
one foot apart shaking head no
saying no son

pony tails flashing in pool
dolphin somersaults

fourth person looks at me
laughing synchronized shaking

everyone else sits
watching children as they swim
sam’s family stands

” they gonna rock down
to electric avenue
they’ll take it higher”

“relax don’t do it”
no one will take your pretzel
bird flying the coup

“chris james at your command
til 3:30 today
how low can you go”

trish rules tiki bar
“you take care of her and she
will take care of you”

fall in love with you
under the blue skies of spring
favorite lizard

why can’t you find us
some place where you bobblehead
dance your lizard dance

a cousin It day
wind blowing hair in your face
turn around lounge chair

“carolina girl
sweet Pearl” my mother always
“girls best in the world”


beach, birds, words

like frank sinatra
days and nights went flying by
summer winds and kites

daddies and daughters
dancing cheek to cheek in pool
summertime rap songs

do you feel love
big sunglasses tiny girls
hats with their own shadow

lifts her with one arm
“wiggle wiggle wiggle”
right arm lots of muscles

Pirate Voyage Plane
we have our own pirate
parrot on saturday

sign flying above
miss coppertone bikini
trailing aircraft sky

“hey diddle diddle”
my cat took my fiddle
and my dog has no fleas

someone has hot cross buns
the bitter ben household
won’t last very long

“don’t bring me down bruce”
like you did entire winter
lungs of sawdust

happening at once
blackbirds flying fast to beat
hula on their knees

daddy twisting girl
over his head with both arms
“you spin me right round”

honestly tell me
“have you heard bird is the word”
these birds do not know


aqua aquarius

when the moon is in
another day at the beach
the seventh hour

sun glistening eyes
helicopter hovering
the twelfth hotel’s sky

in the distance
mr. mullet wonders why
you are getting smaller

walking backwards
only way to see dolphin
who catches any fish

bulldog understands
just like everyone here
pictures of the sunset

seagull swoops in front
giant black feather in sand
almost a peacock

uhnuh bird chirping
landing on swaying palm tree
on top of your head

this entire life
never knowing what makes this noise
sounds like uhnuh

Ottie sees bulldog
father falls on his bulldog
heated argument

he walked a long way
pictures of the sun setting
over the ocean

wife walks through silk creek
taking pictures of husband
on the other side

many people say
it’s alright you can go through
he is not aware

newlyweds kissing
colorfully matching white palms
dressed blue and white

no halloween warmth
the age of aquarius
seventy six high

“dawning of the age
then peace will guide the planets
love will steer the stars”

Age Of Aquarius

black hawk up

october again
when blackbird sits on blue rope
sipping pool chlorine

witnesses this year
two women who see this sight
so close to the sea

black hawk up purposely
flew into long stretching
year of dragon cloud

puff the magic dragon
they say he lived by the sea
can see whale’s tail

inside puff’s blowhole
those three swimming black minnows
think they were shadows

moist sand softening
fibromyalgia heaven
tempurpedic toes

kayak hasn’t moved
for many hours sea is calm
maybe an anchor

that’s a white seashell
tern, tern, tern , no not breadcrumbs
mr. tern, tern, tern

when you learn to play
C-dog will accompany
your flute with a howl

he may “tiptoe through
your tulips” while you play
his ukulele though

Byrds / Turn Turn Turn

“there is a season
a time to every purpose
swear it’s not too late”