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What4221 Jul 24
She calls her up by the ivy vines
The ones that creep and crawl
Until her shadow stretches
Until her image sprawls

And she climbs up by the ivy vines
The ones that creep and crawl
And leaves her shadow in the moonlight
And lets herself sprawl

The garden stands empty at the foot of brick and ivy
And a room where the shadows left
A moon-bathed calling in a sun-bathed world
Two girls and the ivy

The ground is soft
Her step is sure
The dew is cold
By the morning

She climbs down the ivy vines
When the moon is gone
She climbs down the ivy vines
And faces another morn.
What4221 Jun 10
Back and forward
Push and pull
They pick up a piece of straw
Wherever they go.

The birds they caw
Because the birds, they came
Arrived in swarms
And circled our pain.

They plucked straw
From the thatched roof
And built their nests
And glittering eyes looked for proof.

And the birds, they flew
And picked at the scarecrow
And stole his stuffing
And watched from spaces narrow.

And the feathers drifted about
The effigy of straw they made
A man in birds' eyes
Dim-witted, afraid.

The sun beat down
On this straw man
And the birds watched it burn
As only birds can.
Feb 22 2020
SOME may have blamed you that you took away
The verses that could move them on the day
When, the ears being deafened, the sight of the eyes blind
With lightning, you went from me, and I could find
Nothing to make a song about but kings,
Helmets, and swords, and half-forgotten things
That were like memories of you -- but now
We'll out, for the world lives as long ago;
And while we're in our laughing, weeping fit,
Hurl helmets, crowns, and swords into the pit.
But, dear, cling close to me; since you were gone,
My barren thoughts have chilled me to the bone.
What4221 May 25
I read a story written by someone who experienced chronic pain.

It was a fictional story, not about their pain,
But in the lines between their character’s suffering you could feel it,
Pressing sharp and cutting and pulsing down your spine,
In your hips,


They wrote about a man that walked through the rain and never wanted it to stop
Because the fire he walked next to kept away the rain
And it kept away the hurt that plagued his steps
Shadowing like a hunting dog under the birds that fell
Featherless, boneless,
From the sky.

Featherless, cage-free,
Eggs and chickens,
Turkeys, geese, swans,
How do they land on these shelves
(Featherless, boneless)

They land on the supermarket shelves as I walk by clutching my daughter’s hand,
Masks making our faces invisible
(No mouths, no noses)
Just a bunch of eyes drifting from fallen bird to fallen bird

I read her to sleep that night
And she crawls into my bed in the early morning
(When it is still dark and your mouth is still dry so you wander to the sink to get water)
Saying that nightmares of eyes on mouthless faces had followed her through a dark forest of dead birds

Sometimes I wonder about the things that change us

We wear masks and hide away, ducking from human contact
Crying for another voice
Trying to stay safe, stay alive,
But my daughter sees human eyes on dead birds falling on supermarket shelves
And there is another side to every coin.

There is pain that stretches across your bones
That settles down like a cat exhausted from a mouse chase
Stretching and settling across your back, your shoulders, the curve of your spine and the ache in your hips

It’s hard to walk
(And when you close your eyes, the dead birds)

My daughter threw away her faux feather stuffed pillow
She said it came alive and cried at night
(It is not alone)

She pulls a mask down over her face
Pulls gloves up over her hands
Mirroring me by my side
No school, no daycare-
I no longer have the money for a sitter
Whether or not they’re essential.

We sit at home after shopping
Staying away from birds
Reading in the calm of a storm
As the rain lashes outside.

(And a man written by an author with chronic pain walks by under the raindrops)
He walks by his fire
As I walk by my daughter
And the world is empty outside

Empty and mouth-less,
Invisible faces with crying eyes
And birds falling (featherless, boneless) from a thunder-filled sky.
May 25, 2020
What4221 May 12
You're sitting alone in your room and you haven't eaten anything since yesterday's lunch because you can't force yourself to go to the cafeteria
Or store
Because no one ever taught us how to look at someone else and see a human
Because no one ever taught us that it's okay if you're alone
Because no one ever taught us that just because they can see you, doesn't mean they're judging you

Unless I missed that class

And you didn't eat anything all weekend and when Monday comes you eat breakfast alone and stare at your phone and pretend you don't notice the friend groups not noticing you
Or, at least, not seeing you
Because no one ever taught us how to put a band-aid on that emptiness
Because no one ever taught us how to smile back at a stranger
Because no one ever taught us how to speak when you can't breathe and the air itself is heavy

Those starving days, when you walk to class hungry because you can't afford the store and you can't afford the stares of the cafeteria
And it's cold and you can't breathe
The starving days of winter.
What4221 May 6
In Sunday school
They gave us stones
Smooth enough to skip
And told us to color one side
And write I'm sorry
On the other.

They have made us feel our guilt
Before we knew what we had done.

I have always carried the weight of my future
And you ask why my back is bent and aching.
What4221 Apr 11
There are moments
When the sun shines
And the apathy clears out of my brain
Like the morning's fog
That I think
I can go back to me again
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