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This poem was written in response to prompt #104 on ReadWritePoem: write a non-trite poem about sex. My writer’s statement about this poem appears as the first comment. I have my husband’s consent to publish this poem.



,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,There in the pines a lady cardinal — will she come
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,to our feeder in the new snow? will he come,
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,her mate spread wide above her, red as the rake
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,my husband still keeps at our door (leaves come
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,shivering down here even in late November).
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,I half wonder, how much longer can we come
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,to slow hours such as this one, bird bellies
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,warming soft or hardwoods — easily come
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,to couple with their beak-cries? Some safflower
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,must go to waste, to dark. Colder needs come.
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,Old age comes: deepening sleep, faint silhouettes
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,of hunger and red, song and seed. Of coming.




,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,by Therese L. Broderick



About ThereseLBroderick

Independent community poet living in Albany, New York USA.

24 responses »

  1. WRITER’S STATEMENT– (“A workman may be pardoned, therefore, for spending a few moments to explain and describe the technique of his trade. A work of beauty which cannot stand an intimate examination is a poor and jerry-built thing.” — Amy Lowell, “The Poet’s Trade,” on
    This poem is part fact, part adapted fact. Recently while taking a walk, I did see a red cardinal and his mate in a tree above new snow, as well as a red rake leaning against the nearby house with a bird feeder. However, the house & feeder were not mine; the rake was not my husband’s. My husband said he has no objection to these adapted facts.
    I did some Google fact-checking to determine that safflower seeds in a feeder would, indeed, attract cardinals.
    In this poem, I establish an amorous/erotic mood through the use of suggestive words and imagery. I use indirectness, which can sometimes be more alluring than directness.
    Depending on your point of view, this poem is either a modified ghazal or a failed ghazal. In compliance with the stricter ghazal forms:
    I use couplets;
    I set up a rhyme scheme (a long E sound before the repeated “come” and variants);
    I set up the characteristic emotional tone of “melancholic and amorous”…”embued with longing and love.”

    But I depart from the stricter ghazal forms in these ways:
    I enjamb from one couplet to another (this departure alone may constitute failure);
    I proceed with more logical thinking than the typical associative, non-sequential ghazal; I don’t count syllables or beats;
    I don’t insert my name anywhere in the ghazal.
    (The two quotes above come from the book RAVISHING DISUNITIES: REAL GHAZALS IN ENGLISH (Wesleyan, 2000) edited by Agha Shahid Ali. The first quote is from page 4; the second quote is from page 6.)

  2. You are absolutely right about how suggestion can work much better that “beating someone over the head with a stick”! This is a beautiful piece, and I loved the repeated word, coming…very nice.

  3. Whatever it is, I liked it. Wonderful, vivid and a pleasure to read. And re-read.

    nature copulates

  4. Therese, this is beautiful.

    In addition to the ways it fulfills the prompt, so expertly, I also see this as an Advent poem. Cardinal red in green pine. Coming. It is seasonal, physical, emotive, and religious, expectant.

    Well done!

  5. We have Cardinals coming to one of our feeders full of safflower seed.

    Well crafted, Therese. Per usual, I must say.

  6. Therese, I wouldn’t care if you made up the occasion for this poem out of whole cloth! This is a gorgeous ghazal, made even more so by your adapting it to the needs of the poem itself — fidelity to the poem, not the form or story that was its impetus. Brilliant use of the form, however, repetition of “come” in this setting so effective. A real pleasure to read, thank you.

  7. Beautifully crafted words.

  8. wondeful poem Therese…as I watch the birds at our feeder….no cardinals…but they are having a blast…thanks for this

  9. Oh Therese, this is gorgeous! I also enjoyed your comment, explaining your process. The form works so very well with the theme. I hope you send this poem out into the world!

  10. Great poem Therese. Something this small exposes itself to microscopic attention to detail, and this holds up. I think form works best today as creative corruptions of form, and your “failed” ghazal is so much the better for its liberties. “Come” is one of those words that has a page in the dictionary to itself, so many meanings and nuances of meaning. Its repetition here fully exploits that. Many other words are used with multiple relevant meanings (“pines” , “rake” (“as the rake/ my husband…” hmmm), “bellies”, “soft”, “hardwood”, “safflower” that goes to “waste”, “song and seed”…), yet fit perfectly in the scene described and don’t force the poem to dally but are integral to its motion.

  11. viciousorvirtuous

    This is exceptional! The approach of both the mating birds (life) and death – collapsed into your use of “come”. I’ve re-read several times and really enjoy your poem!

  12. I especially love “leaves come shivering down here even in November”… in Bakersfield they shiver down even in December!

  13. Lovely. The form is just right for this piece. Oh, Jill said that right up above.

  14. This is so so beautiful. I have a very clear image in your head and it is both sexual and nonsexual. Sexual in a subtle, beautiful way. Beautiful all the same.

  15. I like! Cardinals have always seemed to make especially faithful couples to me, so this use rings true.

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  17. This is a colorful poem that soars with spirit and imagery. I love the transitions through life. Thank you for sharing, Therese!

  18. Well worked! I loved the anticipation that is established that revolves around the mating dance we all play when we find our mate. I would love more reflection about the line “Colder needs come.” from the point of view of the one that watches the mating dance. I feel the line is a time bomb that is being set. I want to feel the anticipation that the voyeur is feeling. What is the “Colder”? Is it inevitable? What if it does not come- will there be longing… torment… endless searching… pain of losing the one you love to the things that are to come? PLEASE MORE!

  19. Beautiful Therese! And as real as real needs be. Never minded some jigsaw associations to be re-spun by some as suits the eye. Real is real, and as we see. This is a comely vision here, seen and interpreted very fair. Fine and elegant response to the prompt.

    “I half wonder, how much longer can we come
    to slow hours such as this one…”
    Slow hours, a lovely term. Thank you for this poem.

  20. Hi Therese,

    There is great warmth in this, in contrast to the cold climate references and the potential bleakness of old age.

  21. Lovely, Therese. And a meditation on aging along with everything else.
    It’s a beautiful reminder of what can be accomplished working with the constraints of form.

  22. Mmm, your form adaption works incredibly well. No failure here. I like the subtle word play, the cardinals as the metaphor, the various ways of coming as markers of certain ages.

    I took “must go to waste, to dark. Colder needs come.” as the idea that youthful ardor (age of person or length of relationship) *usually* gives way to practical needs, that are less impetuous and more deliberate. (Perhaps my take is too self-revealing! Glad I am late to comment, in that case!)

  23. I love the use of ‘come’ as your repetition word in the ghazal. The phrase ‘colder needs come’ takes my breath away!

  24. This is wonderful, Therese. Allusive, elusive, clever without being arch, charming without being coy. So difficult to write about things sexual without falling into one of those traps. A major achievement.

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