Conference of the Birds

from by Heavy Jamal



Farid ud-Din Attar's poem "The Conference of the Birds" details the birds' search for Super Bird Jesus, the Simorgh, whom they can't find, because the bird god is all of them—the totality of their community, their love, their hospitality. You should really read the poem. We think our version, set in our city, is also pretty awesome.


Devil defines the self with cut-up songs and proverbs,
reverb, battle drills, philosophical chills
down backs that ran in back alleys where last night heard
were secret words chirped by aging turbaned Songbirds, like:

"…I'm the pigeon-king who trods in the gutter-street,
utters over odd beats, cuddles only otter teats,
dresses Mod and stutter-speaks,
hollers when I beat my meat:
'Peace off the curb, herb:
All birds can flutter lonely in the sky
or lower-greet the ruler with the lava-heat…'" Or:

"I am the four-beaked vulture-headed Shag-king
I sit atop my mountain made of birds and the words ring
from my jewel-ed tongue like the waves of deep shock,
waking up the Nephilim, the sneakerheads, and gods of rock—"

Among the rain and lights I saw the figure 5 tonight
and realized that sight was gift more gold than mines, and, yes, despite
the riches loved by eyes, the world itself is bright, alive—
truth is gold was is and always will be, right?

My new eyesight changed Brooklyn all around me
on the crowded street, a red fire bird slowed down to see
the tense unheeded clanging of my beak against the glass
couldn't get out, till I realized I was out at last,
had been the whole time, wary of the rumbling dark,
now the siren howl of the city fills the humble park.

And then the Owl says:
"Made me think back to failed attempts at queen-making,
coal-raking, liver-breaking (surely the heart's already been taken)
I need you the way the sea needs the moon.
I need you how oak needs the sun.
But cancer, too, grows from that very same fire,
so don't stare, girl, cause you ain't the one."

And then the Crow responds:
"In seed time learn, in harvest time teach,
In winter enjoy, in the meantime reach,
For a fool sees not the same tree I see.
Exuberance is beauty, and I shine mightily.
He whose face gives no light, will never be star.
If you know about God, then you know about scars…"

And then their leader the Kingfisher says:
"'Go head… Drink the mingled venoms up'
Heard this gangsta kid speak as the sun came up:
Truly troubling is this syntax…
How connected can I be to a whole fucking town?
Even one so so small as New York City;
I mean, in Tokyo, you can hear the growing of the ground.
The city's skin bursts, and cytokine reactions
grip the sewage system-livers and towers of woven bowels.
What if every single hair upon my head is crown?
What if the path walks itself and lives Uptown?
I don't mean to bust inner child custody battle rhymes…
No, fuck it: I mean everything: I am Solid Pride."

Prayers plow not. Praises reap not.
Joys laugh not. Sorrows weep not.

Simorgh, tell the Master, wait for me!
The Answer never seems to come…
It's as if the Answer's living or just bullshit; likely,
the Answer is a question-feathered, floating past the sun…


from SHINING SKY LOBSTER, released April 1, 2012



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