Jamaal May “There are birds here”

Friday, October 16 –   “And no
his neighborhood is not like a war zone”

We, who live and work in Detroit – 8 Mile Road down to the River – live with many perceptions of Detroit.  Jamaal May’s “There are Birds Here” was new to me before a friend sent it, suggesting if for the “Work Day/Hard Time” poetry list.

Every poem does best when read out loud, with pauses – today’s, perhaps, especially so by the 3rd or 4th reading.  Detroit alive with vitality while carrying wounds as well.

Have a blest weekend,

john sj

Today’s Post    “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 buildings
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 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
his neighborhood is not like a war zone.

I am trying to say
his 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 that birdless city.


Jamaal May, “There Are Birds Here” from The Big Book of Exit Strategies.
Copyright © 2016 by Jamaal May. Reprinted by permission of Alice James Books.


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