Saturday Poem

There Are Birds Here

—for Detroit

There are birds here,
so many birds here,
is what I was trying to say
when they said those birds were metaphors
for what is trapped
between fences
and buildings. No.

The birds are here
to root around for bread
the girl’s hands tear
and toss like confetti. No,

I don’t mean the bread is torn like cotton,
I said confetti, and no
not the confetti
a tank can make out of a building.
I mean the confetti
a boy can’t stop smiling about,
and no his smile isn’t much
like a skeleton at all. And no
their neighborhood is not like
a war zone.

I am trying to say
the neighborhood is as tattered
and feathered as anything else,
as shadow pierced by sun
and light parted
by shadow-dance as anything else,
but they won’t stop saying

how lovely the ruins,
how ruined the lovely
children must be
in your birdless city.

by Jamaal May
The Book of Exit Strategies
Alice James Books, 2016