Jeff Daniel Marion


It was the year I seasoned
the backyard with salt, shaker
in hand and every bird’s 
tail a target only to
be empty-handed, Uncle
Newt’s saying less than a bird
in the hand or the bush till
he flashed that toothy grin, “Gold,
pearls and ivory,” he said,
“man’s riches are in his mouth.”
A sly warning this time
to keep my tongue away
from those empty sockets where
once my baby pearls had shone
or else gold teeth would grow
in their place. Seeking such wealth
I let my tongue ramble
and rub those spaces, magic
sure to bring valued ore,
but like all legend unlike
what Newt or I expected,
many years later, words my
wealth only to be given
away, flown like birds on air.