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Peggy Heinrich

The Boss

I thought it was ill,
perched outside, feathers
in molting disarray,
head bobbing up and down
like someone overmedicated
for a mental disease.
Now and then it dipped
the needle of its beak
into a hole in the bright red feeder
then returned to nervous watchfulness
long enough for me to study bird and book —
Anna’s Hummingbird, male, 4 inches.

For days, others try to land
but zip away when they spot
this alpha male squatting at the feeder
and I realize this is the same red-capped bird
who’s been dive-bombing his rivals.
Far from dying, he’s an avian Mafioso
with air rights spreading out for yards.

He doesn’t budge, just goes on
slurping from the sugar water,
his defecations dropping rhythmically
to the floorboards of my deck.
Now I can stare at one wild bird
for hours, see the way that sunlight
turns his dark head fire-red,
watch his wings vibrate with gusto
while he shifts to an adjacent drinking hole.

A few more days of this and soon
I miss the iridescent green,
the timid tries, the bullet dash-aways
of those hummingbirds that hung around
before this Anna’s landed in my life.

I rarely see them now. The feeder dangles
rich with nectar. One might fly in
but Anna’s close behind to scare his rival off
until the feeder hangs in space
a red and lonely UFO
waiting, waiting . . .


Dream Noir

Like a film, this dream in 1960’s black-&-white
traps me in a murder plot beside a man I love
who maybe loves me back.
I’m visiting New York, city of my youth.
Someone’s disappeared. Any minute
the gangsters will catch up with us.
We slip into a talent agent’s office
noisy with chatter about some new play.
I’m not worried about a bullet finding me.
I’m not worried that my lover will be hurt.
I’m anxious as a soldier going into battle
because I must call my parents, tell them
I’ll be late for dinner. Trafalgar 7-4286,
our old number, doesn’t work.
I ask the secretary for the phone book.
She shrugs and says, I don’t suppose you know their cell.
Why would they have a cell?
No one had a cell in 1962.
I dial other numbers, friends who know them,
who can tell them I’ll be late for dinner.
I hit wrong keys. When I get one right, it rings and rings.
Don’t bother me, the boyfriend says.
The mob will be here any minute.
It’s growing dark and nothing works.
My skin is damp from sweat because
I must call my parents, tell them I’ll be late.
Strange, when I’m awake I’m like Alfred E. Neuman,
Mad Comics’ what-me-worry cover boy.
In dreams, when I misplace the car keys,
I’m sure I’ll never find them. When I find them,
the motor coughs and sputters and I worry I won’t get there.
When I get there, the revolving door gets stuck,
won’t let me in or out. Light dawns.
My eyes open and I’m breathing hard.
I splash cold water on my night-scarred face,
watch the fears I dreamed up slither down the drain.

Easy Living

On the car radio
Billie Holiday is singing
…living with you is easy living…
For years, we shared a stream of days,
a gentle flow
of clear water around rocks.

Sure, there were snags
when your voice would change pitch,
and your face would flag with anger
at something I said
like when I dared to defend 
one of  your enemies.

Quickly done with.
We’d part like a zipper
and return to work
in our separate rooms.
Later, we’d meet over sections
of the New York Times
and share groans about the government,
the world.

These days so many scenes
wash up on the shoreline of my brain —
the time in Dublin when you exclaimed
Dinner? You want to go to dinner?
You had lunch!
then you went along with me
to keep me company, you said,
to protect me.

Peggy Heinrich

Peggy Heinrich's poems have appeared in Verdad, Future Cycle, the new renaissance and Santa Cruz Weekly as well as many small press journals. Her books “A Minefield of Etceteras” and “Sharing the Woods” showcase her longer poems. "Peeling an Orange," a collection of her haiku with photographs by John Bolivar, was published in 2009 by Modern English Tanka Press. Their latest collaboration, “Forward Moving Shadows,” which blends Peggy’s tanka with John’s photographs, will be in bookstores this fall. A long-time resident of New York and Connecticut, her recent years in Santa Cruz have been among her happiest.


Spring 2012

John Chandler
Alta Ifland

Shiloh Hellman
Thad Nodine
Patrice Vecchione
Stephen Woodhams

Dane Cervine
Eileen Eccles
Peggy Heinrich

Lauren Crux

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