Black bird, red wing
by Nickole Brown

So this is where the last year
of the Mayan calendar begins—
5,000 birds falling on Beebe,
Arkansas, a state that could smooth
out with the sway of the plains
but instead sputters the silence
of the first syllable like a pothole
that hits before you're off the
on ramp—say it—
ar-
-can-saw—
ending with that blade
of rusted teeth to chew
through the last of what's left
of those woods, a fast-driving
diesel flatbed of felled trees
and all of us in a tight spot
between that chugging machine
and the concrete barrier
as we hope the straight back
of our consonants will
hold, even if they are quiescent
monsters, reticent prayers,
because we can't help it, we lean
towards letters that do not bend,
try our exhausted weight
on the middle of that state,
that silent K—the shape of a man
trying to hold up the ceiling,
trying not to think
of its falling
as the sky's.

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