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Clade Song 3

Brewer’s Blackbirds
Have curved beaks, that light which is torn, so wings, carefully.
I’m covered in moss, I feed a family of deer, birdclaws on my head.
Quick as ideas, a substitute for thinking, then circling warily, my teachers
drip honey in my hair. I’m not allowed to use my hands to taste it, I have to wait.
So I wait and pay attention and the blackbirds are drinking they say honeyhead
why do you want to be the best song on the best album, why are you the business?
I say you shield me easily and cherish my life, I say you shield me and the blackbirds
with their golden eyes hop on my chest merrily. A cup nest in a tree, tall grass, a cliff.
Leave the cities for the fields, the meadows, be quick to notice, live in colonies
and lay camouflaged eggs. I’m going to be so adaptable everyone will hire me!
But looking for work is a teacher in the sun, a speck. Twelve are your children,
the wings flutter east and uncrumple paper. Someone misses and someone starts.
How much is silence to a blackbird, some of which hold down jobs at home
beta-testing the older children, their brains unshaped yet for empathy.
Or you’ll be slanged, mocked for your English. But even in winter, you deserve
to be seen in the new sun. I’m working on this poem and one is hopping around
nearby and he is working the entire outdoor seating area, the busboy shoos him,
the moms and dads shoo him, the toddlers shriek with delight, throw French fries at him.
Small pleasures are melodic I tell my boss and she says just remember you’re lucky.
Stay committed, keep the roadblocks secure, so others coming through will be ecstatic they even got here.

Ring-necked Pheasants

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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.