Mourning Birds

Here a thousand birds dispute
The gun going off
the random back fire
who handled who
and who rose to be recognized
and how the body came to be fresh
fallen there
and why the girl was tacked
and how her wrists looked slight in hand cuffs
and the exact nature of the orange pin
and the load glassing her eyes
the load incalculable and
the incalculable load.

Here a thousand birds dispute
the fresh blood on the sidewalk
the battle line, how it was drawn
how the sides were chosen
had there been a trial
Or any doubt and if so
how it was framed
did the shot hang in the air and who
was there to hear it, and here
Hold this thought—4 are shot per day

As xenon follows its element
Or night its day time shadow
As penumbra fades into solids
and endures a rain of blows
—there falls a reign of blows

Here a thousand birds dispute
What went wrong
the stopped clock
the orange pin
the random call

the fall from childhood
the fall, the incalculable fall,
the fall incalculable

this time to not let the familiar
obsequies masking obscenity
twist lips, the birds dispute

these too, the televised worship of cinders is riveting
junk heartache abetted by hollow gestures

The birds’ disputations grow louder
frantic against glass
stunned splintered and hushed,
in shadowy, honeyed innocence

The gun going off
The random back fire…..
appears as random as asking
who’s got the gun
who owns the gun
who sold the gun
who pulls the gun
and who does the gun let sleep.

From Jump the Clock: New and Selected Poems (Nightboat Books, 2020). Copyright © 2020 by Erica Hunt. Used with the permission of the poet.