Philip Pardi

Drinking With My Father in London

With his mate, Wilfred, who was dying,
I discussed ornithology as best I could
given the circumstances, my father flushed
and silent, a second pint before me,
my fish and chips not yet in sight.
Condensation covered the windows
and in the corner a couple played
tic tac toe with their fingers.
Behind it all, convincingly, the rain fell.
The mystery, Wilfred was saying, isn’t flight.
Flight is easy, he says, lifting his cap, but
landing – he tosses it at the coat rack –
landing is the miracle. Would you believe
30 feet away the cap hits
and softly takes in the lone bare peg?
Would you believe no one but me notices?
I’d like to come back as a bird
Wilfred says, both hands on the glass
before him, and here my father
comes to life. You already
were a bird once,
Wilfred, he says, next time,
next time you get to be
the whole damn flock.

Meditation on the Ego

Three sounds descending must land
even if the mind wrinkles to catch them.
Already alive, they are reborn.

         Let me tell you about the ego, they say: Imagine
         pages, loose and scattered, the reader stepping
         from one to the next, at times over a great distance,

cobbling together a sequence, the wind revealing
flipsides with graphs or maps, page numbers
in cuneiform.

         The ego is the part of you that fails to notice
         are watching.

Poem Without Birds

Yes, there is a blue sky above,
beneath which

the diviners

look up. Oncology
of clouds,


in the wind, twigs
and wrappers

waiting, waiting.

A student sleeps in the grass
as a squirrel absconds
one by one with her peanut M&Ms.

So many ways to avoid the central fact.

At bus stops, lacing boots,
beneath spotless statues,

the posing

above which we find ourselves
looking down

for proof the clouds have passed.

About the Author

Philip Pardi is the author of Meditations on Rising and Falling (University of Wisconsin Press), which won the 2008 Brittingham Poetry Prize and the Writers’ League of Texas Award for Poetry. His poems, essays, and translations have appeared widely in journals and anthologies. With the support of a 2015 Fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts, he is currently completing a translation of Selected Poems by the Salvadoran poet Claudia Lars. He teaches at Bard College.

Acknowledgments: “Drinking with My Father in London” first appeared in Gettysburg Review; “Meditation on the Ego” first appeared in Mid-American Review; “Poem Without Birds” first appeared in New Orleans Review.

(click here to close this window)