Filling Station

—Elizabeth Bishop
Farewell to flowers. Our bird no longer feeds
On nectar from morning glory, larkspur, sage….
Seems that sugar water’s all he really needs.
Farewell to beauty sprung from Erda’s seeds;
To honeysuckle puckered to engage
Avian kisses. Now each time he feeds
His beak probes a tiny plastic slit that bleeds
Liquor he can always count on to assuage
Great thirst. (Phlox no longer satisfies his needs).
His sex life’s humming; always he succeeds
In seducing nubile groupies, lured onstage
By free drinks. They pay dearly for such feeds!
Unabashed polygamy! Everybody breeds!
In a world where procreation’s all the rage
He’s found a singles bar to meet his needs.
To the gods of progress our hummingbird accedes.
Do we offer freedom? Or just a tighter cage?
On lilac and foxglove our bird no longer feeds.
Are artificial flowers really all he needs?

David Alpaugh’s work has appeared in The Formalist, Hypertexts, and Raintown Review. His essay "The New Math of Poetry," published in February by The Chronicle of Higher Education, has spurred wide discussion on the internet (as have his earlier essays "The Professionalization of Poetry" and "What's Really Wrong with Poetry Book Contests?"). His first collection of poetry, Counterpoint, won the Nicholas Roerich Prize from Story Line Press. His second, Heavy Lifting, appeared in 2007 from Alehouse Press with a preface by Richard Moore.