Poetry by Matthew Nolan

May 24, 2005 by

Shivering Mockingbird

I sit on a black cast iron bench in the Garden District and
hear my house from the funeral bagpipes
leaking Irish music; screeching Irish pain.

Dammit father, poor father,
as a little boy, your deformed chest, and broken home
made every room a room of eyeballs
and every tongue was an itchy wool sweater
you passed down to me.
Your feelings were soft, skinless bruised grapes
falling in the paths of our footsteps.
We looked down to watch our steps
while feeling those eyes in the room
that could see the anxious fluttering of our hearts,
a shivering mockingbird in a birdcage.
Some of your kids were scared of you
like crabs and turtles.
I was scared but I did it like a lion.
Did you think we were the kids who picked on you?

Now, you are a slave to old age, a docile child.
The eyes in the room and your eyes have dimmed.
They don’t make my heart flutter with fear.
Your eyes are weary, wet giraffe eyes
that gaze around, unsure;
an accessible path to that always generous heart.
That hurt little boy searching for acceptance.

That overly sensitive man.
How can they still fear you?
When you grunt in exhaustion
from trying to stand up from your chair
and wobble when you walk,
when I have to remind you

You are old now and nothing to fear.
I do not fear you father.
You are the funeral bagpipes leaking Irish music;
screeching Irish pain.
It breaks my heart.
It smothers the mockingbird.

To view more excerpts or to order Matthew Nolan’s book of poetry, prose, and journals Crumpled Paper Dolls: A New Orleans Poet please visit your local New Orleans bookstore or order directly at http://MatthewNolan.net/book.htm

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