Was it within the song / or within himself

Black and white photo of Ricardo Sternberg on an orange background.

What was then sung
was a dismal song:
armour plated;
a cactus cantata

with choked melody
and cutthroat words;
mouth shrapnel;
gutter’s gruff blues.

To hear it once
was to be drained,
to wish day over
when barely begun.

Was it within the song
or within himself:
the rooster’s craw
slashed, mid-crow,

as the bloody morning rose?

Ricardo Sternberg
Ricardo Sternberg has published four collections of poetry. His fifth, New and Selected Poems, is due out next spring. He lives in Toronto.