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 is a retired professor of mathematics and computer science, with a specialty in casino games. Eliot has been writing poetry most of his life, but finds words and metaphors very difficult compared to numbers and logic. Nowadays, Eliot spends much of his time as a docent at the local zoo and helping to produce & direct shows for the local community access TV station. More recently Eliot has joined up with the local police department as a volunteer cop.  Eliot still appreciates writing about himself in the 3-rd person. Some say Eliot has become a mystical traveler on the great highway of life, others think Eliot should drink more beer wine.