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Thursday, May 16, 2019

Song of Raven





I kept a Little Gull named Raven, flew to call her Myna,
She made sounds like a Crow, although she was pretty as a White Rump-ed Shama.
Not Sapsucker, or a Flycatcher, or the Least bit a-Do-Witcher,
She was just a Rhea Cutia, a purty little Redhead-ed Tanager.
An Orange-breasted Sunbird, a Summer Tanager she was.
“Raven you should be in Skua” . . . She said, “A Course-er!”, so she does.

I did well in University, and flew first bird Courier.
I'm a Horned Coot with a Baldpate, a Babbler and a Worrier.
I’m no Apostlebird, though I went to Godwit school,
Never made Bishopbird, I thought Cardinal was way too Koel.
I ended up as a Friarbird, Jacana Turnstone Fody.
Then I met a Flutist Wren, and she Towee how to be Noddy!
I wrote some Harpy Music, though I’m not a Nightingale,
I was a Happy Song Wren, when I Smew this little Gull.

One Nightjar at a Rusty Fronted Barwing, swallowin’ Wild Turkey and Kokako’s,
Wren I saw a Starling who I was sure Woodstar, she had such Corvus Mangoes!
I Sora’ later at another Barwing . . .  She must have Turnstoned twenty
Oh Raven you’re Toucan, . . a Kiskadee would help you plenty!

“Caw Caw! . . . Wild Turkey and Kokako’s!”

“Oh Raven, a Kiskadee would make me wealthy!
Oh Raven you’re thin, not fat!
“A Chick-a-Dee would keep me healthy,
You’re a Reedling tall thin, like a Chat!

“Not a Secretarybird, nor a Roadrunner, For sure you Sibia Manakin!”
You're a Yungas Mannakin!, you have fine feathers on your tail!
“For such a Cutia Buteo, you’re skinnier than a Rail!
“A kinder man would tether you, Wagtail you a Hutton Vireo!
Fur a Greater Roadrunner, Yur a Graceful Pitta for Rea-l!”

“True, I'm Rail purty, tis true I was a Cutia,
I was the Yougas Mannakin, when I was a just a Tanager.
But then I got too Greeby, and my Manager threw me out,
I’m not the Least Bittern, I’m not the least Tit in doubt.”

We tried to squawk, but Raven’s Bewick had a Hoarse Accentor . .

“I Garganey’d Wild Turkey, but it didn’t make me Tercel,
"My Scarlet-Straited Ant-Thrush is Sora, Tits a gettin’ worse!
“Now I’m trying Kokako’s, to see if brings down the Weka.
“I need a Black Capped Phoebe, something to make it Pica.”

“Open your Magpie wide!”, an' I Sora Nuttalli inside her!
“Your Thrush-like Shiffornis! Gotten red and Sora!
“A Remizidae, I have some Serin, a Currasow in my Caracara!”

Now I ain’t got no Caracara, I have a Minivet and a Scoter,
No reason to Guan too fara.  They get me where I go to Skua.

I Hawfinch took a Waldrapp Swan, for a Divers around the Park
So that day on a Whimbrel, I asked Raven out for a Lark.

We Redstarted up my Scoter, and made the Eider roar.
But just then the Eider quit, the Block busted a Nutcracker.
“Turdus!” Sora Rook bad Luck, the Scoter’s engine gone!
There’s no Currasaw. . . it’s outta Oilbird!

“It’s a Beautiful Jay” Raven said, “Let’s Wren a Caracara!”
So we Wrentit ourselves a Merlin, and Redstarted to the Park.
Raven was actin’ Prinia, Coquette-a as I drove our Wrentit Merlin
Then took a Noddy Tern, and lied to in Tern to Raven,
“Our poor Merlin’s out of Petrel.”

I brought a special Botteri, in the Kestrel, for just such an Auk
It’s not a drink if you think a Stork, I thought she might just Goshawk.

Auk-ward as Raven is, she’s got a lot of Gull
“Wheat-ear!” She cries as she Dippers her Nightjar.
A Robin’ Bustard, a Ruff Babbler in the Act !
She’s Florican gas for our Wrentit car,
Duckin’ a Jackdaw in a Canvasback . . . . . “Caw Caw!”

"Duckin' a Jackdaw in a Canvasback . . . Caw Caw!"

I Coot not say no to Raven
I Lyrebirded to you here in this Dusky Lark
I lied to have you Raven . . .
Right here in Bushtit Park.

The Monal came out, and the Skylark got Bathawk,
“That’s Koel”, cawed Raven, then she threw the Canvasback.
“Let’s make a Leantoo,” Raven said, “I’ll make it up Pootoo, against the Wrentit Caracara bumper."
“And then I’ll invite you to my Bowerbird, and you can show me your Thunder Pumper!”

Raven became a Firewood-gatherer, I became a Leaf-Tosser,
Sora I Woodhunter my Treehunter, when we had enough leaves I’d Gleaner!

The place was kina Treepie, the sun Flicker-ed then Blackstart.
I thought to Coot my Oxpecker, and Shag Raven then in that Park.
Or maybe she Takehe up the Ani . . . like so many birds that Turdus
Wood she be a Trembler? Sora a Screamer? Raven my Bowerbirdus.

I started fumblin with her Spotted Redshank,
Then she took out one Brown Booby muffin.
Woodcock or Snowcock, my Monarch was really Puffin!
My Cock-seemed-made-of-Rock, it needed her Turkey to give Smew stuffin’.

When I Spider-hunter ware-y
“I’m not in a Thrush at all”
I'm Accipiter Cooperii, not at all Gentillis
She said, and took my Barbet Wood Peewee.

“That’s not for playin’” I told my dear young Raven.
“Not for a Pygmy Goose like you,
“That’ll pleasure an Oldsquaw Muttonbird!
“But will Hurt a Hummingbird like you.”

“Caw Caw” . . “Will hurt a hummingbird like you.”

“I ain’t no Rusty Breasted Nunlet, I’m a Ruddy Turnstone twenty!
Pygmy Ibon your Cactus Wren, I’ll give your Puffin Groundpecker plenty!
I ain’t no Virginia Cherrybird. You got a Trogon there?”
"Honeyguide my Rusty Flowerpiercer, Into your Fruithunter Fairey!"

“Caw, Caw! Into her Fruithunter Fairey!”

A Gannet and a Gannet, my Thunder Pumper banged her Butter Ball.
She called me a Stake Driver, and Wren me a Man-of-War!
I was Screamer “Raven!”, my Gull’s a Paradise Crow!
I Rollered her in leaves, we Tumblered in the Ouzel so.

My Puffinus Assimilis, is makin' her Ani Sora . . .
I’ll give her Peewee Stuffin’, and she’ll be beggin me for Moa!

“Guillemot, you are e-Chough for some good Broadbill,
I Coot Falconet” said Raven who then called me Bill.

She’s past being a Fregata minor, or a Twite Tanager
She’ll not be a Tattler, ‘Gwan then, take your Fill.
'And then when she’s had e-Chough you can Saddle-her Broadbill.’

She Wagtailed her Bendire, and Craned Thrasher in the Air
She jammed my Beak into her fender, and then ripped the clothes off my Scimitair.
We stripped off all our Stitchbirds, till we were naked in the filty Muck
And I then I took her Velvet Swift, to sit upon my Woody Duck.

“Caw Caw! Upon my Woody Duck!”

Then I threw her Velvet Asity down, and I ripped off Raven’s skirt,
I was no Gentoo-man, as I Spurfowl-ed her in the dirt. Caw Caw"

"As I Spurfowl-ed her in the Dirt. Caw Caw!"

I Craveri’d to up her Ani, I knew this was a Ruff Shag
Give me a Rosy-Finch . . . Don’t stop unless you’re a Fag!
"Kittiwake Kittiwake," I cried and she said, “Guan!”
I was Happy Wren my Trogon, jumped out of her gapin Hoatzin yawn!

Then from my Flycatcher, out leapt a Fairy Quill,
From my Hornbill, spilled to her Bushtit dark and Hairy.
“Moa Moa” she cried. She never Quetzal,
Raven was singin’ like a Nightingale merry!

“You’re a Loverbird! It must be your Eurasian Hobby!”
“Your Drongo’s longer than a Currawong.
No wonder you’re so afully Noddy!”

And it was that moment that I Lyrebirded to Raven,
Lyre-ed right there in that Park
. I told Raven I Lovebird-ed her.
All for her Bushtit Bushlark.

I swore Molothrus Ater, I Sora so Fulvetta,
A Gannet her a Divers bunch of lies,
A whole crop of Dotterel I Shoveler’d her
. . . just so I could get Broadbill.

“Dat’s Koel” she said, I hoped she was not a Tattler
"White-don't-Eye do Forktail, It won't make me strain Wryneck!"
Oh she’ll Crane and Crow , and then Swallow
When she takes my Flowerpecker.
She Duck-ed tho when she Dove,
Though I hoped she’d be a deeper Diver!

A Gannet and a Gannet her Sapsucker Godwit
I really thought she Woodswallow . . . . .
But just then my Bananaquit

“Caw Caw!” . . . “Just then his Bananaquit!”

[A Frigatebird may make Fantail, And all above eat Fieldfare
A Flameback Finch’s Firecrest may Dickcissel, Ozel leaps out of one’s Flycatcher!]

I Taiwan-ed on a Barwing, and checked in with a credit card down,
I Wrentit me a Bowerbird, at a five-star Hoaz’in town.
Raven liked the Bellbird, he gave her his Gold Kea,
I had to keep a White-eye, on the Waders that stayed so near!

We bought some Silken Satinbird, from a Weaverbird in the city,
She was Hairbird Cactus Wren, and Bee-Eating Veery Nody!
Raven dropped her Stitchbirds, for the Phillipine Tailorbird to show it’,
And flaunted her Penduline Tits there, and Hairy Pipipi as he sewed it!

You should have seen the Dollarbirds fly, for Longspurs, at a fancy Shoebill shop.
Then I bought a Fur-tive Flycatcher, and a Plushcap to Godwit it on top,
We gambled Dollarbirds at Galahs, and danced out at elegant Storks,
Raven was drinking Cisticola’s, we were feeding out with Kites and Forks.

I wore my Crow Silktails, Raven wore her Feather bust,
We danced away the night away, a Horned Coot with a Tanager in Rust.
I took her to the Flickers . . . the Black and White Trillers she liked best.
She wriggled and got all excited . . . even when she saw the Goldcrest
We started watching Bruce Leiothrix . . and other martial Larks,

Raven was a Replendent Quetzal, I hummed a Versicolored Emerald tune,
We ate Blue Capped Cordon-Bleu, an’ slept at Gentoo Hoat'z’in town.
I Rooked her to a Jewelbird, and bought her a Ruby Topaz.
Then late one night, she gave me such a flight,
When she Ducked outa sight in her Bath!
She liked Kakapos and Corn Crakes, lying a'Loon in bed,
Her Gull-et was an Openbill, inside of Raven’s Kitiwate Red!

“Takahe of this!” I said. I thought to light a Reefer.
Raven was my girlfriend now, by now I thought she was Akepa!
We’re just two Grebes smokin’ weed, I thought we might go a-Lapwing
I’d give her a Dunlin for a ring, and thought we might Teal the Knot,
But when she started Barwing, then I Smew she was a Leafbird fond of Pot.

“Caw Caw! . . . She’s a Leafbird fond of Pot”

Raven needed Minla, so I Loon-ed Raven Murre Monia,
Sure e-Chough I got the Merganser, I said that's not funny!"
It’s a Pitta, It’s a Shama and Murre,
My Gull Raven’s a Siskin Greenleaf addict for sure!

"Caw Caw! . . . A Greenleaf addict for sure!"

“Forktail the Munia, I Linnet ya little Northern Flicker!
“Yur a Bleedin’-heart, You got no Lark! You’re a lousty Tit-Babbler
“Wheres the Minla I Linnet Tinamou?
That Gull Raven of Myna is Wrentit Juncoo!

Caw Caw!” . . . Gull of Myna is a Wrentit Juncoo!”

You’re a Little Grassbird Raven . . and Grassquit you’ll do for sure!
But what are these Needletales? Don’t Lyrebird to me any Murre!
“Don’t give me no Bullfinch, else I’ll give you a Blackeye!
What are these Stubtails?, These Needle Tails? You're a Liarbird for sure!"

I Linnet her ten Francolins, and by day’s end “Shortwing!” Harp-eye.
“The Monal’s all Niltava! I don't have Ani Manee Towee!“
Oh she’ll Pratincoll, Crane and Crow
And then she'll Welcome Swallow.

But then I learned my Gull Raven’ll,
Would Jabiru me in the Knots for sure.

“Caw Caw!” . . . “Jabiru in the Knots for sure!”

Then I caught her Bulbul Teal-in’, Silver Kites 'n Forks ‘n Tern
Wag-in-Tail, Cockoo, an’ actin’ all Imperial Dove and Bittern.

“I’m so Sora, I’ve been Greebe-y, I’ve been Veery Noddy.”
“Guan Shrike a Tanager you Gentoo Man!"
You a makin’ me Siskin, it Smews how Shrike u Skimmer.”
This I'll Egret forever, an' knocked her on the Florican.
“Don’t Toucan, Let me go, l promise I’ll Grassquit”
“Don’t go, don’t go just yet”, I’m Mocking her Penquin.

“You’re a Malle-Fowl, I ain’t done wid Piculet.”
“No Hoatzin, I’ll throw you Owlet on ur Nightjar!”
“I’m makin a Scops-Owl, Swallowin’ Murre and Murre
No Monal left in this Moorhen? To the Hammercop u must go to Murre!”

“Caw! Caw! To the Hammercop u must go to Murre!"

Godwit I’ll Coot catch her Bobwhite,
From Heron I’ll not Thrush about it.
Gannet, Even when I take her to a Triller “Drongo”
And when she Shrikes and lies out . . .
Then I’ll Fly out and Catcher! . . . . . “Caw Caw!”

“Yuhina Out?”, In some ways Hammerkop.
I really hate to Harrier-her,
Eider Roller in return, She been a Robin and a 'Teal-in
I ought to have her Condor, or have her made Dikkop
Raven’s a Dollarbird, she’ll Gyre a story Weaver
It’s all Fish Owl, Oh she’ll Crane and Crow,
and then Swallow, all nice and sobby.

“Caw Caw! She’s been Loon-y for a Hobby!"

“Caw Caw!” . . . “ She’s been Loon-y for a Hobby.

We went back to Bushtit Park,
And Raven and I took again to Shag’n.
My One-Eyed Wryneck came 'a poking up
And Eider Ruff Shag-ed my darling Raven.

"And Turdus Grayi?"

One day my Dove was Diving along the Audobon
We weren’t even speeding, just Lazuli Bunting along,
I was lying in Raven’s lap, and tickling her Orioles,
It was fun counting her Titties, and looking for her one or two Moles.

“Kittlizt Plover, I’ve got to go Pipipi!”
“Murre Pipipi Raven? You’re the Pewee of Mississippi!”
Caca Guan fall out, along with Turdus Grayi
Upupidae in the Minivet!" Just then I heard a Honker!
"Crash, our Caracara had Kill-d-a-Deer!
My precious Minivet, my Red Lory couldn’t steer!
The wheels were Warblered, Wren we were looking for a Towhee truck
That was the moment I’d come to fear, as my Raven had run Sora luck.

A Crested Copperbird came over,
"Plover," he says, "Plover!
I’m Givin’ you the Collar’d Dove,” he says,
"Osprey-ed you breakin the Law!"

"I'll hear you sing Canary!”
“Ain’t Dunlin nothin’” Raven cried.
"Fulvetta confession," he said.
"I want a Fulmar Avadavat," she cried.

I offered him a Silverbill, but he had a Golden-eye,
Raven’s Spot-Breasted Oriole the Copperbird did Osprey.
"Fork-me-Over some-tail, an’ you won’t go to Jay-L!"
But Raven said "Goldfinch yurself, you Fulmar Horned Bustard!"
So with an Avadavat he claimed she was a Lyrebird, and into prison she was Buzzard.

I Wren an' got an Avocet, he sent papers with a Merganser,
I Babbled to an Avadavat, to a moustached Accentor,
Next thing you know I’m posting Quail,
Forktailing over more Moola!
All so this Quail can get my Gull, outta this Godwit Jay-L!

"Caw! Caw! . . . Outta this Godwit Jay-L!"

Raven’s let out on Parula,
Crake! It cost me Fody Francolins.
And what do you think she does?
Caw Caw! She throws a punch,
At my Broadbilled Treecreeper!

"No Parula," said the Ibis d’bill, it’s all my Bank Wood Swallow,
Sapayoa yur Bill, and I’ll take care of your Papyrus Canary!
“I’m not the Least Greeby! You could Least have some Graceful Pitta! . . . .”

I thought that Wood Ptarmigan,
Raven’s on the Lammer-geier . . .
Someday I really ought t’ Thrasher
While she’s Roadrunnin’ out there Robin‘ and Teal-in’ Murre.

Me I’ll not Shrike a Tanager
She’s Hoopoe’n I’ll Gnatcatcher I’m sure . . .
I really hate to Spurfowl her,
Shelduck everything I say . . .
I really ought to Chukkar Peafowl out,
For what Raven did to me that Day.

“Caw Caw” . . . “For what Raven did to me that Day.”

Then one Nightjar my Poorwill sang in heaven,
I opened up my Crow, and saw who'd rang was Raven.
She was Blackcap, wearing Macaw, and hair lookin all Curlew.
For a moment I Coot a’ Crossbilled her Violet-Ear,
An'felt my swelling Groundpecker.

But in a Moorhen, our love had Pootoo and Guan,
Raven pulled a Riflebird, I caught it and threw it down.
She pulled a Razorbill, but I caught her Rubythroat
I threw her on the Florican. “Common Ant Shrike a Tanager”, she Crow-ed,
“You Turdus assimilius!”
“Auk!” she cried, “You’ll get the Garot for this!”
“Don’t you Toucan! Godwit you’re gonna Gannet!”
“Sibia Care! You’re a Bustard”, she Crowed, she had to Flamingo.

“Caw Caw! . . . Crombec! Raven! Crombec! She had to Flamingo!""

“You’re a Bustard” she Crowed, We were gonna Marial Guan,
I’m Bay Wren a Child . . . Caw Caw! Suddenly I'm A Mute Swan,
What am I suddenly Heron? Could she be a Lyrebird? . . . .

“Is the Plaintive Cuckoo?” asked an Avocet with an Ara Militaris.
“Friarbird in Oilbird . . . She’s a Bataleur.”
“I Sea a Dove, but you say’s she’s a Bataleur,”
“Does she have a Lawyerbird? How does the defendant plead?”
“No Egrets, from Heron, No Bitterns at all. She’s a Fregata minor,
Sterna neglecta, and hence pleads Guillemot, and requests a Lesser Nothura.”

Raven pleaded Guilty and was Regulidae in chains.
An I’m not sure e-Chough I’ll ever see my little Gull Raven again.

Hwamei here? White-eye do it?
From Heron no Egrets.
I’ll not Grouse, or Rail at how Bird I am,
I’m not Moorhen, or even take a-Pelican,
Not the Least Bittern, I’ll take my Tern,
I thought I might Gnatcatcher.
What should I Dowitcher?
How I ought to Thrasher?
Oh Frigate! I’ll not Thrasher or Whipporwill!
But I know she’s not a Green Crombec
I’d Shoveler shit for a bit a Tit, so Owl ‘not flap about it!

She’s a Goose let loose, two Boobies with Tits an Orioles
She loves a Cock-at-tou, an’ a PeeWee’s Peafowl call
But I ain’t no Quail or a Limp-dic-kin Rail
So what ever Nuthatch, she a Least do one Ostrich,
An’ spend at Least Swan Stint in Jay-L .

“Caw Caw” . . . “An’ spend at Least Swan Stint in Jay-L !”

The Zocalo




Old Man Bachala was better looking if you talked to residents, but the son's reputation tarred the once loved father. Old B had a beard, the son didn't, that's how you knew them apart. The newer bills bore the portraits of Baby B.

In every other way the notes were identical.

After the first elections, "Bachala" meant a foolish man, one who is easily duped. 'Your dog's a Bachala.' or, 'they Bachala-ed workers down at the plant.' Language morphed, the voice of a cruel con into a way to get even. Every utterance took on political code.

Barter was conducted for commonly needed items, a gallon of fuel, ten plantains, for a quart of long-life milk. Coconuts into fuel, two small fish for a bottle of beer. In barter lingo, green coconuts were the medium of settlement, an equivalence for small transactions.

"Ten coconuts for that T-shirt!"

"A six-coconut fish for a liter of oil."

The hundred-thousand bill with the portrait of Baby B was worth about a nickel when I arrived. When it became illegal to use foreign currency a new practice sprang up - the new large notes had legal-tender passengers. US dollar notes were now glued to the rear faces, giving them legitimacy. Real commerce was thus transacted in dollars. Even the central banks embraced this practice, because the task of taking dollars was made easier.

Only the cheapest foodstuffs, and government transportation could be paid for in 'Old' or 'Young Men' that weren't backed. Un-backed notes paid conscript laborers in the countryside but you needed a stack of Baby B's just to buy a plate of eggs. Field workers accumulated reams of 'unbacked' notes, and fought for bus seats to exchange funds at the bank. Lenders employed women with brushes and pots of wheat paste to legitimize their money since the law said only national currency was legal tender - dealing in dollars was a criminal offense. But holding the nation's treasured money together with a dollar bill as a backing was patriotic. Hamilton, Jackson, and Washington were glued to most of the portraits of the Old Man and his son.

The frame might be worthless, but the picture represented a fortune.

The national currency further dragged the economy into runaway inflation, weakening the bonds that laminated the two economies together. Prices clung to round numbers, the suffix 'thousand' was dropped. Plates engraved for the thousand Baby B note were trashed, and the million Baby B took its place. What mattered was the single greenback dollar stuck on back.

"How much is that CD?"

"Twenty Old Men." Papa B with a Hamilton glued on back.

Bachala the Younger printed money as fast as he could. The air in Viaduct Estano Diaz stank of solvents and ink. The brick walls ricocheted the machine gun clatter of money presses.

Money was killing the people.

The lines at the central bank went round the block, so I bought a wheat paste kit from a kid at the edge of the square.

The kit included a crude brush, a plastic pot of paste, and a hefty wad of young men for five dollars US. There was even a blurry printout with instructions of how to do the laminating. You supplied the dollar 'backing' yourself. These DIY kits downloaded the job of converting dollars earned through export into legitimate exchange.

I sat on a bench and started work with some dollars I'd brought with me from the States. The instructions were explicit "All four corners must be glued down."

At weekend the central bank recovered dollars by soaking the notes in water. The domestic bills, worn to pulp by rapid circulation, were burned. The elite sent dollars abroad to banks in Switzerland, as rapidly as they were earned exporting fruit and lumber. Baby B prepared to exit with a mountain of stolen cash.

-:-

An old woman with berries tied into graying braids sat vending newspapers from a small lemon colored shack. She sold me a ticket to the airport.

I thought, 'I am here again. Is it the same? Have I changed more than this country?"

Wait a minute, that square I knew in my youth, wasn't it by the sea? Where is the sea? Is this the same country even? Perhaps my memory put the ocean there, into the picture. As I have been saying, memory is so faulty. No matter. The portraits of Señor Bachala she gave as change were bleached white as sand.

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