poem index

Songbird Cannibalism

 by T.m. Lawson 

 
       In their singing, 
they cleanse my ears of all language but that of
linnets. My gaze takes on the terrible gaze of song
birds. And I find that I too am condemned…
-Larry Levis, “Linnets”
 
Junkyard smile like a wilted spinach side dish
“Who wants to eat their vegetables?” Rhetorical Q&A.
They can cover subjects up with cheese
except when I chirp my glass for a toast
then you have to drink to watered down whines
and god-forbid — think.
 
Was it eighty times or just that once (I forget)
Aunt Gerald asked if I got that Valentine heart
of a job, the one my ex offered with a ring fitting
swell around my neck. He knew I liked
asphyxiation, like a finch wearing a plastic
six-pack sleeve, dancing in balsamic oil.
 
If I grate my knife against the fine porcelain
would that defend me from
this dark art of conversation? 
“This mockingbird is delicious” & “I found 
the recipe in last month’s restraining order 
taped to my door” & “Don’t play
with your food, can’t you see we’re eating?” Mom
hissed, pushing a greasy nightingale wing into my ear.
 
I pecked at her on purpose. I couldn’t help but eat
the sour breadcrumbs leading to the shotgun
marriage aimed at me.
“Play your cards right, beat the House.” 
She stuffed her face like a downtown garbage can
with cuckoo couscous 
because she never ate anything so fancy in her life. 
The table echoes:
     “Don’t you want to win?” I stabbed
 
a cold breast off her plate to spite her,
hating songbirds anyway.