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Clade Song 3

Ring-necked Pheasants

Walking, walking, it makes no difference; your muscles getting stronger but
their connecting points fray. So you suffer but your suffering will not stop you.
Thought of what I could be or be of men, the same as I did all day before, my relief is
complicated knowledge, how if I owned more land I’d be allowed to shoot some of you.
How can you be grieving, how can you look or choose to stop looking, or mean it as you
proclaim your gentleness. The rest of us like blood. Our hands cave you.
Our hands are always naked, always hiding, always touching themselves. Feeding the
mouth seeds, which are broken by the teeth and will only grow more of you.
Everywhere you step’s a midden, every job you take is to build another mound.
Of deference, not being in the war, so deprived of the right to speak of the war to you.
You get what you think is a cold but it’s not and six weeks later you’re in the woods watching
children warily; there should be a test to determine which therapies won’t work on you
so you will not have to multiply the number of times you have to live as a ring-necked pheasant
in an unprotected forest by a housing development. Every bird is a smallness in the way you
perceive for all that time is bust a true unstuck; you ask when are you going to get to
be a phoenix. You’re told to take a number the line is long all your friends are looking at you.
So you slow down, and then you slow down even more, and you in your economy you
catch fire; you tamp it down it comes out of your mouth, you tamp it down you
turn back into a pheasant once more, and you crow up/yes up/yes and you’re ok with what
sees you when you will not let yourself be seen. New life then. Wellbeing upon you then.

Brewer's Blackbirds

Clade Song 3 right

Hugh Behm-Steinberg is the author of Shy Green Fields (No Tell Books) and The Opposite of Work (JackLeg Press), as well as two Dusie chapbooks, Sorcery and Good Morning!  My poems have appeared in such places as Crowd, VeRT, Volt, Spork, Cue, Slope, Aught, Fence, Swerve, dirt, ditch, Zeek and Sweet, as well as a few places with more than one syllable.  I teach writing at California College of the Arts in San Francisco, where I edit the journal Eleven Eleven.