Chordeiles acutipennis

Lesser nighthawk
Barbara Rockman

God in the Lesser Nighthawk

Chordeiles, n. evening dance with music; Gr. person who prefers to be awake at night                          


Insomniac in search of respite,

my red-eyed dog and I go into the field


. . . star bright, first star I see tonight. . .

I think if I distract God,


change my plea from ethereal to mundane,

I will catch Her Holiness off guard.


I wish for chordeiles acutipennis to swoop

moonbeam to porch light.


I’d been researching night birds but

nary nightjar nor goatsucker blessed the sky


though there were moths and humming.

It was summer. Grass crunched.


Eggs had been laid in scars left by fires.

I treaded carefully, fearful


I’d crush the unhatched on blistered paths.

I imagined the hawk’s bristled gape,


tremolo and keen, white striped wings

glowing like plane lights—ever-hungry forager


as I, night after night, crave heaven’s feast

but am offered star thorns and breeze.


I turned to the earth-bound herding dog

curved to my thigh.


No avian eye shine. No whine or dive.

No evening song with strings.




Barbara Rockman is author of Sting and Nest, winner of the New Mexico-Arizona Book Award. Her 2019 collection is to cleave, University of New Mexico Press. Barbara teaches poetry at Santa Fe Community College, Esperanza Shelter for Battered Families, and in community workshops. She received her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.