Guest Poem by Timothy Houghton

Timothy Houghton's The Internal Distance (Selected Poems 1989-2012) appeared in a bilingual (Italian/English) edition from the Italian press Hebenon/Mimesis Edizioni (Milan) in 2015. The book was presented in Florence at the Museo Casa di Dante. He has worked at Yaddo, MacDowell, the Wurlitzer Foundation, and Hawthornden Castle. His recent book is Where the Lighthouse Begins (Salmon Poetry, 2020). His work has appeared in numerous journals in England, Ireland, the U.S., and elsewhere. He is a field trip coordinator for Audubon.


Some people say not to worry about the air
Some people never had experience with
—Talking Heads

It’s the small talk
of wings brushing windows,
vibing the casita. The circle
of four fake flowers
is a compass, a fraught
blood-colored universe.
I wait for patterns,
but these birds come in rhythms
random, close
to chaos. The Book of Wings
might have a chapter for this
under Faith and Theology.
A sign fronting a hidden store
says “Come here to read.”
In quiet motes
of dust emboldened by sun,
I wait at the entrance,
a visitor’s chair
outside the book display.
The dirt alley
holds two walls of adobe
propping up the air.
Flying insects
make background noise
at rain channels
on the eaves. The space is calm
as though a soundproof room
is within it.
Sparrows drop down
and clean themselves with dust.