Guest poem submitted by Clai Rice:
(Poem #346) The Great Bird of Love
I want to become a great night bird Called The Zimmer, grow intricate gears And tendons, brace my wings on updrafts, Roll them down with a motion That lifts me slowly into the stars To fly above the troubles of the land. When I soar the moon will shine past My shoulder and slide through Streams like a luminous fish. I want my cry to be huge and melancholy, The undefiled movement of my wings To fold and unfold on rising gloom. People will see my silhouette from Their windows and be comforted, Knowing that, though oppressed, They are cherished and watched over, Can turn to kiss their children, Tuck them into their beds and say: Sleep tight. No harm tonight, In starry skies The Zimmer flies.
1989, University of Illinois Press. Paul Zimmer recently retired from the editorship of the Iowa Review, where he worked for the last 13 years after spending about 10 years editing the Georgia Review. Zimmer has published several books of poetry, most of them featuring a character named simply "Zimmer". A few of his poems have been widely anthologized, including "Zimmer Imagines Heaven" and "Zimmer Loses His Religion," a poem published many years before REM did their similarly titled song. (That Zimmer was working in Athens, GA, when REM got their start might suggest that the poem was known to the group.) Two reasons I have always loved the poem "The Great Bird of Love" since the first time I heard it: 1) The vowel harmony of lines 3-6 with the motion of the slowly undulating wings of a large bird: brace ^ my wings ^ on updrafts ^ Roll \/ them down \/ with a motion \/ That lifts ^ me slowly \/ into the stars ^ to \/ fly ^ ... 2) The transformation of the speaker into a great mythological force is complete with the "the" before "Zimmer". My response is always to imagine what mythological creature _I_ might become -- maybe 'the great hippopotamus of love'...? Clai Rice.