Bird Brain

Bird Brain

When I was a boy I

swallowed a bird,

its black and yellow feathers

poked out from my lips like

a toy until I choked it

down and thought it dead;

but the bird landed soft in

my gut, then found a spot

to roost in my ribcage,

regained its senses,

preened its downy plumage,

and made itself at home.

I still feel it darting

around my skull,

where it built a nest from

twigs of nerve and bone,

when I’m alone its songs

chafe like a tinny muzak

that vibrates the heavy

threads of sleep,

and during the day I feel

its sharp beak poking the

backs of my eyes in panic

when, say, the housecats

climb into my lap or I

unbag Cornish hens

to roast in the oven;

once I yawned and it flew

out, I thought it was gone

but by morning it was back

singing me awake with

the warblers at dawn . . .

most days now I forget it is

there—I pull on my boots,

wander outside to watch the

gentle curlicues of smoke rise

from chimneys in the cold

air and dream of climbing

the soft flakes of falling

snow far into the sky.  




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