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.
Lord, I ain’t asking to be the Beastmaster
gym-ripped in a jungle loincloth
or a Doctor Dolittle or even the expensive vet
down the street, that stethoscoped redhead,
her diamond ring big as a Cracker Jack toy.
All I want is for you to help me flip
off this lightbox and its scroll of dread, to rip
a tiny tear between this world and that, a slit
in the veil, Lord, one of those old-fashioned peeping
keyholes through which I can press my dumb
lips and speak. If you will, Lord, make me the teeth
hot in the mouth of a raccoon scraping
the junk I scraped from last night’s plates,
make me the blue eye of that young crow cocked to
me—too selfish to even look up from the black
of my damn phone. Oh, forgive me, Lord,
how human I’ve become, busy clicking
what I like, busy pushing
my cuticles back and back to expose
all ten pale, useless moons. Would you let me
tell your creatures how sorry
I am, let them know exactly
what we’ve done? Am I not an animal
too? If so, Lord, make me one again.
Give me back my dirty claws and blood-warm
horns, braid back those long-
frayed endings of every nerve tingling
with all I thought I had to do today.
Fork my tongue, Lord. There is a sorrow on the air
I taste but cannot name. I want to open
my mouth and know the exact
flavor of what’s to come, I want to open
my mouth and sound a language
that calls all language home.