Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Return of the Swallows

“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.


Sheila said...

I live in San Juan Capistrano and the town is buzzing today, lots of people, no swallows!

walk2write said...

That San Juan Cap festival reminds me of the annual vulture festival in Makanda, IL:$594

The vultures were slow to return last year. While doing a drive-by snooting we noticed that a few of the locals put out deer carcasses to call 'em in. Yee haw!

Cicero Sings said...

Interestingly enough, we used to live in Capistrano ... I remember about those swallows! I was just a little tyke.

TC said...

I'm a big Joe Ely fan. Have you heard "Locked In A Box Car With The Queen Of Spain?" Or perhaps "Letter to L.A." off Lord of the Highway? "Your love is like a city / only shines at night / your love has no pity / but baby that's alright."

How about "My Baby Thinks She's French?" "She plays Spanish guitar at the coffee bar / she's takin self defense."

Joe Ely is definitely a poet.

Mud daubers make nests like that too, only on a much smaller scale.