Sunday, March 30, 2014

Robert Cording: "Peregrine Falcon, New York City"

On the 65th floor where he wrote
Advertising copy, joking about
The erotic thrall of words that had
No purpose other than to make
Far too many buy far too much,
He stood one afternoon face to face
With a falcon that veered on the blade
Of its wings and plummeted, then
Swerved to a halt, wings hovering.

An office of computers clicked
Behind him. Below, the silence
Of the miniature lunch time crowds
And toy-like taxis drifting without
Resolve to the will of others.
This bird’s been brought in, he thought,
To clean up the city’s dirty problems
Of too many pigeons. It’s a hired beak.

Still he remained at the tinted glass
Windows, watching as the falcon
Gave with such purpose its self
To the air that carried it, its sheer falls
Breaking the mirrored self-reflections
Of glass office towers. He chided
Himself: this is how the gods come
To deliver a message or a taunt,
And, for a moment, the falcon
Seemed to wait for his response,
The air articulate with a kind of
Wonder and terror. Then it was gone.

He waited at the glass until he felt
The diminishment of whatever
Had unsettled him. And though
The thin edge of the falcon’s wings
Had opened the slightest fissure in him
And he’d wandered far in thought,
He already felt himself turning back
To words for an ad, the falcon’s power
Surely a fit emblem for something.

"Peregrine Falcon, New York City" by Robert Cording, from Common Life: Poems. © Cavenkerry, 2006.

Photography credit: Untitled photograph by Patrick Cashin of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, taken May 25, 2012, at East Atlantic Beach, New York (originally color). 


  1. Wow, the photo is a beautiful shot in and of itself while at the same time being a magnificent complement to the poetry. The breadth of your knowledge of both the written and visual arts is a wonder to behold. Deep bows of gratitude to your own depths of generosity.

    1. The internet is a wonder! That's how I found things. But you're welcome. Deep peace.

  2. This poem is incredibly poignant in the way it captures our separation from (and exploitation of) the rest of the natural world. I recently read this same poem in Bright Wings, an anthology of poems about birds edited by Billy Collins with paintings by David Allen Sibley. A treat for bird and poetry lovers to go with this site, which has become part of my morning routine.


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