A Whole Town of Cuckoos Relaxing With Their Feet Up, A Poem by Chris Russell

The little yellow bird inside it would play peekaboo every hour on the hour,

and it was something you could count on coming back.

Which is just like an hour.

Maybe that’s why I wanted a cuckoo clock so bad.

With all the parents splitting up and leaving kids behind

I’d take anything if it stayed,

though it’s taken me four decades to realize that,

and back then I was so angry I pushed everything I cared about away

because I wasn’t going to go in and out of feeling abandoned again,

not for anything.

But all that was, was a cuckoo in training.

Because now I’m the cuckoo coming back every hour

to do the same job over and over, every day

playing peekaboo with the innocent world,

and if you want to know the truth,

I don’t think I like being the cuckoo very much.

It’s definitely not how I imagined it would be:

Inside the clock a whole town of cuckoos relaxing with their feet up,

where one every hour, they rotate, straightens its feathers

and stands on a little platform that will carry it through a door

into a giant world with giant heads fascinated for mere seconds

with how real it looks going in and out of its little hole

like a piece of candy on the end of a tongue.

So you see, now there’s no need to get a cuckoo clock,

because I realize how I am already like one.

I can let it go and chalk it up to a fine lesson in attachment,

how someday all the cuckoos will leave their clocks and fly away, singing

about how lost they feel and how unfamiliar the sky is

without a moment to hold it upright, without a moment to bring it back.

Except it won’t be over,

because that’s when all the cuckoos will realize they are like the sky.

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