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June 12, 2021

Two Poems

Ankh Spice

Coeliac bird god

She jokes that I’m some kind of deity
to sparrows. Every morning, manna
flows from the back door to the feeder
via this two-legged conduit. I don’t tell her
that a self-made god does this kind of thing
at least a little selfishly – to fend off a life-
long struggle with purpose. The certainty
I breathe for any reason in particular escaped me 
a while back, and this body’s not godly 
in any way that matters, struggling too
in its ridiculous ways – simple bread
an indigestable substance. Even a crumb
of a wafer, slow poison to it, forever hungry
and jealous and clearly no transubstantiation
will happen in this fucked-up temple. And yet,
barely awake, I find my hands again full
of stale risk and crusts of purpose, a heel
of mouldy godhood, dangerous like most divine
gifts, but this one only to the giver.
Take a step back. Another. The door
is barely shut and pale flames alight
to consume the feeder in a flickering miracle
of birdy fire. Offering accepted and gone
and in the glow of choiring from the trees I wonder
who’s really blessing whom. I can’t blame
anything exotic for the warmth inside, 
we’re too far south for mythic wicks
of waxwings, far too damp
for a phoenix. Sparrow paradise must be noisy
and strangely polite, the way they queue
for their chance at the bounty.
I hope a bird god doesn’t need to eat. I hope
a bird god has no purpose at all 
except to conjure bread. I hope for morning, 
at times like this, when my hands clench
completely empty in the dark. She sighs
in her sleep, the feathery tail of exhale
a whistle, a chirp. Tomorrow I hope
only to feed something until it’s full. 
God, or not.


Urban plan

When it dawns you are a city
it’s a heavy responsibility. In your streets
everyone is hungry all the time, eating
of your dust. I read that skin flakes are, to a mite,
something like a bowl of cornflakes. After breakfast,
I will the behemoth to its feet, an earthquake
of indecision, my somewheres sounding tiny sirens. 
Should I warn them about this latest inevitable change
of climate, what will befall us all
when I subside into the sea, one flawed brick
at a time? It might be easier on everyone
not to see it coming. I’ve run along the crumbly edge
of these cliffs so many times, matter-of-fact
that rocks bounce free, that soles slip
of their own accord. There’s never been any plan
except to finally reach the wide field beyond
the walls, to sink down into grass so cool, so sweet,
everything you carry leaps to feed it.