I write poems about sparrows too often, I've been doing it for years. The first sparrow poem wasn't really about sparrows. It was about St. Francis and how his hands taught sparrows to fly. Since then sparrows are my go to bird.
If I need a bird, I throw in a sparrow.
Sparrows above cars, sparrows in black trees rising out of the rain, sparrows above the manger in Bethlehem, sparrows looking for a friend in a blizzard.
But really I don't know a thing about sparrows.
I don't even know what they look like.
Are they black? Brown? Gray?
Big or little?
Really they are a mystery to me.
From now on, I only write about pigeons.
I know pigeons!
Thanks to Wikipedia for providing me with a picture of a sparrow.
I was born in a refugee camp in Germany after World War II, and came with my parents Jan and Tekla and my sister Donna to the United States as Displaced Persons in 1951. My Polish Catholic parents had been slave laborers in Nazi Germany. Growing up in the immigrant and DP neighborhoods around Humboldt Park in Chicago, I met Jewish hardware store clerks with Auschwitz tattoos on their wrists, Polish cavalry officers who still mourned for their dead horses, and women who walked from Siberia to Iran to escape the Russians. My poems try to remember them and their voices.
These poems have appeared in my chapbook Language of Mules and in both editions of Charles Fishman’s anthology of American poets on the Holocaust, Blood to Remember.
Since retiring from teaching American Literature in 2005, I've written two new books about my parents. My new poems about them appear in my books Echoes of Tattered Tongues (Aquila Polonica, 2017) and True Confessions (Darkhouse Books, 2019).