“I keep my fingernails long
so they click when I play the piano
And I’m going to keep them that way
Until the swallows come back to Capistrano”
Joe Ely, Fingernails
Today is the feast of Saint Joseph, which swallows celebrate by returning to the Mission San Juan Capistrano, about 1.5 hours north of my house.
The swallows make nests of mud with the entrance at the bottom that look like tiny wasps nests. Wherever they’re permitted to stay, they tend to return annually, making yet more mud nests. The result can be a nuisance (as pictured above by this guy) so the legend is a bit more romantic than the reality.
One man’s romantic myth is another man’s filthy nuisance. I think Joe Ely’s poetry is like the swallow nests. Either you see it as a transcendental image that will stick in your head forever, or a lame nonsense rhyme that insults the very word poetry.