Literary Yard

Search for meaning

‘Goldfinch’ and other poems

By: Ray Cicetti

Photo by cmonphotography on


On the Audubon trail
I saw the goldfinch, dead,
his black winged body broken near
a thicket of thistle and sparse grass.
The olive brown female above
called out, to distract me.
And I remembered another July
when I got the call about my brother,
his body crushed on the roadside—
never to fly again, never
to look into his own mysteries.
I was out of touch with him then—
he had his life, I had mine.
I thought about him all night,
and I had to know about that goldfinch.
How he makes the long journey
from Canada to Mexico.
Why he mates in mid-summer,
how he builds his cup-shaped nest,
water tight against the rain.
How death can come unexpectedly—
predators, window crashes, collisions in flight.
I returned to the trail the next morning,
as finches streamed in like braids of light,
my memories of him carried in their flight,
as they dipped, rose, then disappeared.


After Reading Shunryu Suzuki, roshi

               “We bow in gratitude to all things,
             for all things make us what we are.”

I make bows to the morning;
to my neighbor across the street walking her dog
in the pocket of woods;
to the double espresso, steaming in its white cup.
To autumn leaves that twirl down from the maples.
I bow to the children next door whose laughter
carries the sound of gratitude down our street.
I bow to my anger that reminds me when
I push against life as it is.
To friction that brings warmth;
to heartbreak which is both an ending and beginning;
to the finches lined up in wait at the feeder.
I bow to the music of the Mavericks, we dance to
across our kitchen floor;
to Boccherini’s String Quintet in C major,
that reminds me of the sea;
to ocean sound in every leaf and stone.
I bow to what I don’t know that flows through the world;
and as we stand together in the October night,
eyes raised to the empty weave of stars.


Being Friends with Sherlock

He calls to tell me he’s solved another murder that baffled the police for years. I tell him that’s impossible because he’s a fictional character but somehow, I still believe him.
He’s can be quite annoying at times. He stops to inform people on the street what’s about to happen or where they’ve been by the marks on their shoes. At times he disappears into a lit match as if translating some ancient scroll or solving an endless crossword puzzle. Sometimes just for fun, I ask him to deduce what I’m thinking. He smiles and tells me it’s impossible to unload my endless cargo of thoughts, my life a constant amusement. He asks me to go home with him to Baker Street, says we’d travel the world, be great crime stoppers, solve the disappearances of Jimmy Hoffa, the Lindbergh baby. When I tell him, I’m not sure, he sits back in his chair, squinting, inhales the darkness, as if stumbling upon yet another mystery to solve.


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