C. G. Hanzlicek

The Window & On Turning 79
August 20, 2021 Hanzlicek C. G.

The Window
I check the den window a few times each day
To make certain the world is still out there.


One day a ruby-crowned kinglet, a micro-bird
Not much bigger than my thumb,


Hovered like a motorized crucifix
Right in front of my face.


His crown, hidden when the bird is calm,
Stood straight up, a scarlet mohawk,


An emblem of his anger as serious as opera.
Again and again he charged my face.


It took a while to gather that his quarrel wasn’t with me:
He was pecking at his own ghost in the glass.


I taped newspapers over the window,
And he retreated to the plum tree.


The next morning I took the papers down,
But he came back in full fury,


So the papers hung again for three days
Until he vanished to another challenge.


I too have often been my own worst enemy;
No wonder his hatred seemed almost human


On Turning 79
When I was a boy,
I woke to the flute song—


A single tone, three notes,
Coo coo coo—of the mourning dove.


Far from mournful, it launched me
Into morning with a small beauty,


A good way to set a tone.
Today, the same awakening,


Despite some deteriorations
In the house that is my body.


To be. 
An even tinier song,


Yet it houses on one foundation
All of my desires.

C. G. Hanzlicek was born in Owatonna, Minnesota, in 1942. He received a B.A. from the University of Minnesota in 1964 and an M.F.A. from the Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa in 1966. He is the author of nine books of poetry: Living in It, Stars (winner of the 1977 Devins Award for Poetry), Calling the Dead, A Dozen for Leah, When There Are No Secrets, Mahler: Poems and Etchings, Against Dreaming, The Cave: Selected and New Poems, and, most recently, The Lives of Birds, which appeared in 2013.  He has translated Native American Songs, A Bird’s Companion, and poems from the Czech, Mirroring:  Selected Poems of Vladimir Holan, which won the Robert Payne Award from the Columbia University Translation Center in 1985.  In the summer of 2001, he retired from California State University, Fresno, where he taught for 35 years and was for most of those years the Director of the Creative Writing Program.