it’s an obscure
ornithological fact

the lifespan of a
common hummingbird
is 20 to 25 years
and i know hummingbirds

i feed them
equal portions water and sugar
hung in a red-tinted mason jar

my cat likes to eat them
but they’re hard to catch

she stalks them for hours
then settles for doves and lizards

there’s more lizards
than anything else around here
many with half a tail
and all those poor doves missing a foot
it’s very sad

there are millions of hummingbirds
in costa rica

i’m telling you,
i was there in ’04 and saw them all

they have hummingbird-themed
grocery stores
feather outlets
knockoff sneakers
hosiery, breath mints

two hummingbird

there’s so many the locals go
on hummingbird hunts

they scoop them out of the sky
with big nets
then grind them into
gourmet cat foods

cat obesity is
a big issue

everyone in costa rica knows about
and death

it’s a noteworthy numerological fact
twenty to twenty five years

i’m reminded of your
collection of adjectives
your legacy scoured from books
magazines and newspapers

your belief that there are no “facts”

and i want to tell you again
twelve years after the fact of your death
that your encyclopedia is
wrong about hummingbirds

to share your delight again
when i add new adjectives
to your collection

to say to you that it’s

an elementary jurisdictional fact
a regrettable rapid-fire fact
a primordial paleontological fact

that hummingbirds live
twenty to twenty-five years


Image credit:Zdeněk Macháček

Eliot Jacobson received his Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Arizona in 1983. Eliot was Associate Professor of Mathematics at Ohio University and Visiting Associate Professor and Lecturer of Computer Science at U.C. Santa Barbara. Eliot retired from academia in 2009. Eliot was among the first professors at UCSB to institute automated plagiarism checking into his Computer Science courses.

Eliot founded Jacobson Gaming, LLC in 2006. His company specialized in casino table game design, advantage play analysis, game development, and mathematical certification. Eliot worked internationally with casino surveillance and management, helping to uncover scams, detect cheats and advise on game security. Eliot’s business “Certified Fair Gambling” used statistical methods to audit, police and safeguard online casino games.

Eliot fully retired in 2017 and now enjoys his new full-time career as a grandfather, husband and volunteer.