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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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