bonfire bird

flames are the feathers of this bird
but I’m not calling the fire brigade
—life burns life

though this is a particular bird
whose flame is multitudinous red
in flamboyant nuance—
high-frequency colorwheels thrown in
and well-played purple notes of a bass line
in its wings

—but “multitudinous” fails to tell the tale
of this bonfire bird,
a bird blown by algorithmic winds
from the keyboard of a friend
lands blazing on my screen and sits

—this birdblaze with redgold beak
sharper than human wit

what do you say when a thing like this comes to light,
that exceeds sunshine acid visions?
makes them lame

how to state the spectral luxury of this bird,
to see it, out on a limb, its satiating color
which some pure mind has wrought?

I could say, “Rufous-Backed Kingfisher”
or “Ceyx rufidorsa”

but how to really say it?
how to paint it?

how to see it?
how to hold it in mind’s eye?

don’t try,


Jim Culleny


I thank my friend, Jack Braudis, for introducing me to this wonder.

Photo of a Rufous-Backed Kingfisher (Ceyx rufidorsa) in Malaysia