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The Birds in Hand

by Warren Jeremy Rourke


If you smash our beaks
we will not
need clean drinking water
from our taps, and ancient rivers
diverted, running dry.

If you pinch our eyes out
we may
become accustomed to the loss of light
and electricity – made to remember fire-cooking
and the dangers of night.

If you clip and snap our wings
we might not
think what it is, to be a foreigner
somewhere else, currency gawking
smug as conquerors.

If you pluck our feathers out
we may
forget, what new clothes and health are
sure, left only with the good looks
we see on cheap bought free foreign tv.

If you cut our feet off, snip snip
we might not
even complain about the price
of getting to work, or anywhere, else.

But when you hold us
government, in your caged hands of nation-state
and we begin to thank you for the warmth
and comfort, of this, just know
there are others of us
who circle high above
and strike with the power of rifle shots
articulating signs

and us, who discern your blurred democracy
lest you’ve forgotten, bombs
of discourse in history
heaven forbid you, our own struggle socialism

and then, and then, there are even some of us
government, antagonisms of your neoliberal demon
who move in the night
and hoot unseen and twist our necks
expectant of your noose
but not stopping, our unpaid unstoppable poems
despite you, and your master.