Cardinal Dreams

Cardinal Dreams

Firebird, Thunderbird, Sunbird
they all seemed the same to me
their headlights like eyes
unmoving, blank.

The Phoenix Center in downtown Pontiac,
somewhere near the Fiero plant and Fischer Body
where Johnny Cash worked three weeks
alongside Abuelito, building the 1951 models.

Johnny Cash joining the Air Force, Abuelito’s
old Aztec thunderbird medallion curling
into his chest hair
those years after the war,
open shirt, asleep on the couch
with the afternoon game on, his mammoth
cherries jubilee Cadillac parked in the driveway,

four years old when he jumps off
the couch and the Tigers take the World Series,
tugging at his pant leg
and repeating what I think is the name
of his automobile


Once I dreamed a cardinal:
on a power line
bisecting a dying oak
in the front yard of the home
I was leaving

Sean Casey’s calf muscle snapping
as a taut electrical wire in Game Two

my Abuelita when she discovered
the crimson lipstick of her husband’s mistress.

Like a skipping record for days, for weeks
I look out the front window
of the house on Allen St.
three perfectly equal wooden frames
stained dark a hundred years before
spinning tires.

Through the wood
of the frames/ through the glass and the branches
of the three story oak to the transmission lines
on the other side – it is the same every time.

One cardinal


balanced on a wire.

In the dream is it clear, the facts are unquestionable:
I’ve seen this same bird,
fixing its tiny
repeating record eyes on me until I wake,
hundreds of times/

I cannot remember
if I’ve seen the bird/

It’s the baseball day-
dreams, the two hands of Albert Pujols,
the St. Louis Cardinal

smiling across his jersey, his hands still
as the pitcher begins his motion,
the sublime strain of fabric
along quadriceps.

He’s a man you love even when he breaks you
when the Cardinals take the Series in five
and we go home alone.

The cherries and the cars and the
bird and the tugging were all the same, were all real
or not real, were all some kind of way

to explain what had happened/ what had maybe
never happened, but I cannot speak
when I try to say it, lusting after Pujols

and alone at night and wearing patent red
shoes, imagining myself as Mercury
with the winged heels when I chase the bus,
waving a hand looking into each passing branch.

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