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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, April 7, 2016.
About this Poem 

“I was lonely living in northern Michigan, I found myself staring at my neighbors, watching their lives. Up there, sometimes I confused the people with the deer, with birds. When I was writing this poem I was thinking: but this bird smokes. And he’s white.”
—francine j. harris

The neighbor’s buddy watching my screen through the window

Because the tube is turned to the window, the neighbor’s buddy         coughs
a cough of pigeons. a hack of grackle. a bird out the window. It’s         like

the neighbor’s buddy on my ledge, smoking. The neighbor’s                 chum in the blinds,
the eyes that peer, the eyes that open. propped and sunglassed.         a kind

of smoking blackbird, an inveterate

tombirder. His leather wings are splayed. his rock in the cold.            He has one foot on ice porch
and one foot wiggle. one foot rockerbird. a one-foot band. His            cough is the cough

of the myriad smoker, the murder of smoker. There is quiver of         murder. His cough
is the cough of a white boy, northern. of a Michigan leather. of           the white boy jacket,

his leather like hair. The air is gray like cig smoke. gray like ash.
gray with the onset of northern porchlike spring and its                       porchstep rain. Wet

and snowy, the neighbor, his buddy in leather. like me, in                     leather. In a wet snow,
rocking. in a porch band leather. leather in April. April wet and         still, one foot to the other.

Copyright © 2016 by francine j. harris. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 7, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2016 by francine j. harris. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 7, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

francine j. harris

francine j. harris

francine j. harris is the author of play dead (Alice James Books, 2016).

by this poet

poem
The joke is orange. which has never been funny.

For awhile I didn’t sleep on my bright side.

Many airplanes make it through sky.

The joke is present. dented and devil.

For awhile, yellow spots on the wall.

Obama on water skis, the hair in his armpits, free.

I thought the CIA was operative. 

Across the
2
poem

(November 9, 2016)

 

O trail up outta here, how long ago
            you started to wander, crawling milkweed
through dependence, in grope toward sprawl
            dominion. Rather red in your rove from southern transition,

thick of land use, what