"What's the world for you if you can't make it up the way you want."

-Jazz, Toni Morrison

Ravenous Birds, Blue Seen, and True Colors of a Robin

Ravenous Birds, Blue Seen, and True Colors of a Robin

Ravenous Birds

Measure my wingspan in words
I am a bird who never leaves the nest

My talons are letter openers
And my clutch of eggs
Are envelopes 
Enclosing messengers of folklore
Who will sing their history for their supper

I use my beak 
To arrange sticks into letters, then words
The nest clutters 
Around a jumble of eggs, which tap together 
When nudged by my feathery, clumsy body
Then begin to rattle and shiver
I hear pecking from inside the egg
Which I would like to muffle as I 
Try to write out
My aspirations to lift and dive
As a solo pilot

The words follow the curve of our home
I hop back and read 
On the lip of the nest in stick letters:
Leaf is to pillow
Pebble is to mill
Branch is to…

Hatchlings crack free
And sorrowfully cry my name
Crackling, leggy bugs
Down their throats in pieces
They love the taste and
Tell stories for more

A warm, downy body
Lies on my last line
Words struggle from my beak
The stick words are warmed,
Covered, obscured 
By small, hungry birds



Blue Seen

There is a clear hour
When spirits take a seat
Take in the magic smugly
When the air is easy
For our lungs to decipher

In that hour,
Whales breach and glisten
In magnificent light
The wine-colored waves
Reveal story-ful scars
They’ve never seen

Their cavernous skulls,
Hold fireworks and fireflies
Reverie and prisoners

In that hour,
The hushed lapping you hear
Is the response to your secret wish
The one you wished 
After all the wishes for your daughter

The glistening on whale’s scarred
Beautiful skin, across the water
Is the glow of a single birthday candle 
For you

The ruby red of the waves
Shifts to blue
And then it’s all you can see

Turquoise, blue-green, gray-blue
The dark red is
Forever unseen 



True Colors of a Robin

The chest of a robin is coppery orange 
The heart of a robin is pink like a tongue
Which might speak of the red berries,
Sweet and bright, 
But his preference is
For earthworms, beetles, and sowbugs

The blood of a robin is red,
Like the berries on the nandina bush
In the yard
Which my father covers with a net
To try to keep the birds away

The shape of a bird on the sidewalk
Is curved, a satchel for travel
Like a package
A flight, on pause

He instructs me not to touch it,
Just watch
As he makes a vertical cut to its abdomen
The blood of a robin is red,
As it drips from my father's pocket knife 
Onto the sidewalk in front of our house

In the cool shade of the silver maple,
Whose canopy is a scientist’s tent
And whose trunk is a gravestone
For the poisoned robin
His insides so pink, 
His heart so newly still

Susan Niz's chapbook is "Beyond this Amniotic Dream," Beard Poetry, Minneapolis. Her short work has appeared in Typishly, Tipton Poetry Journal, Carnival Literary Magazine, and many others. Her novel Kara, Lost (North Star Press, 2011) was a finalist for a Midwest Book Award (MIPA) for Literary Fiction. She has a Master's Degree in Education. Twitter:@susanniz

Cover photo by Biel Morro on Unsplash



Obituary by Child

Obituary by Child