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Excerpt from “Fish, You Bird”

Moths fly to streetlamps
in droves to meet their bright loves—
flame a moth’s graveyard.

No one knows sorrow more than
the lamp lighter, torch ablaze.


Wind holds up his hands:
in his palms, albatrosses
like small pocketknives.

Flight is a winged tree (feathers
its leaves) bending in the wind.


All fish are derived
from Icarus, that swallow
who swam in the sea.

It is commanded: swallow
the bird, you fish; fish, you bird.


In the Texas spring,
birds return, typesetting songs
all plumb chicken scratch.

Feathers are bound pages,
the flutter of books falling.


This is fluttering
at its most savage—bedsheets
flung off just for us.

We’re what happens when the kite
hits the tree: birds fly out, scared.


Trees bend toward the house
to bless the sleeping who bark
like dogs in their beds.

Windows rest their chins on sills
watching the night wake slowly.

Apples, sickening
& and soft, are pillows rotting
on a rumpled bed.

Those who sleep are full of worms.
Those who dream are full of fish.


The currency of
nothing: her eyes drop their coins
onto me again.

The moon is her boomerang;
each night it comes back to me.
Posted 05/06/10
a series of tanka written as collaboration with Martin Rock, available through Pilot Books
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