Poetry Issue 14

   Issue # 14 : January - June 2011

Mary Austin Speaker

from The Bridge
Lovesong with Chickens

from The Bridge

    all the animals come out
    each morning
    to walk the streets
    is to exist
    make noise
    squint at the glare
    from the sun-bleached bridge.
    It is 9:28 AM
    and the other bridge
    is blue and grey
    and steam puffs from
    the electric plant
    its other form of water
    as the river plods her course
    light slanting on the buildings
    as though they had been dipped
    in cream and then forgot
    there is a man in a monster hat
    yawning with thumbs in pockets
    a child with a hat full of sherbet
    colors coughing and the gum
    of a thousand nervous people
    pocks the platform at grand street
    where a mall stretches back
    to the bridge on this
    midmorning nod
    between frames of dreams
    and the frames of others
    these trains flash off and on
    these others we could be
    or be with all those
    necks exposed heads
    nodding down all tender
    undersides of ears
    offering themselves
    for recognition
    because we’re innocent
    when we dream
    we’re animals
    when we sleep
    each morning all
    our animals come out
    and then they go back in

Lovesong with Chickens

    Perpetually off balance, perpetually urgent, chickens cannot back up,
    nor can they fly, but their bones hold tiny pockets of air. In keeping

    with farm gentility, and because it is summer, I offer you one.
    You accept. When you sigh, the invisible exits your chest audibly.

    When you hear bells ring, you think of your bedroom by the church
    and you are there among my notes, transparent as a line drawing.

    Reflective, you are lemonade and alabaster, tourmaline and quartz,
    dirge-rock, egg-pale, equal parts obtuse triangle and convex lens.

    We are foolish enough to begin counting our chickens.
    We dress them in frock coats and officiate fake marriage ceremonies

    while they utter their chorus of indistinguishable remarks.
    They are the smallest chickens in the world, but their mock-clothing

    is painstakingly detailed—each cuff aligned with its sleeve,
    each neckline gracefully offering its feathered breast.

    When fall arrives, I am not bothered by its decay,
    its years of give and rub. I am not bothered by the feathers

    on the floor. I envy the cushioned bodies of these kaleidescopic birds
    and their well-tailored clothes. I am not bothered if we never know their numbers.