Anyone that ever heard the call
of the Rodrigues Solitaire
is long dead, but its name is trapped in stars:
named by a sensitive astronomer.
Does this translate to the solitary turd?
Three hundred years extinct, there’s no soundbite
of the male’s oscillating laugh or courtship twill.
Dodos, dodlets—those clumsy
Their hollow bones marionetted
in brown rock, but glittery.
Imagine speaking from the bottom
of the throat, with a syrinx instead.
The vibrations closer
to the heart than to the thin hot air.
On farms, there’s a film of uric acid
and chickens scratch and peck
and I’ve stepped in the white goop with my bare feet.
On swamplands, the dodo sphf sphf sphfed
the murky water, and shat.
The diatoms crystallized and spread
into toxic shapes,
and we didn’t help much.
The relative of the bird that died,
because of us and shit,
is named as this singular thing in the sky,
a lone turdbird in the firmament.
Rodrigues Solitaire, a solitary songbird,
but no, it isn’t that either, because I know
I hear them, the thrushes, they rain down
their shits like a cloud releases snow.
For Breece D’J Pancake
Ona is a town named after some girl who won some beauty contest. You know this West Virginia town. O is the mouth of the town and it catches brittle flies that leave a ring of husks all around it. Did you ever see the plantation I used to walk to? Paint even more delicate than fly skin.
There, the guinea fowl chased the school bus down the street. Those polka dotted dino-turkeys used to untie my shoelaces.
There, a naked boy on a tricycle followed me and my sister. Fat plastic tires make a particular gravelly friction. His brother in diapers clipped the stiff grass with a pair of kitchen scissors, dandelion seed on his shoulders and chest, an old man already.
The dogs would follow us into the deeper woods. At the clearing they’d bark, their tails swatting the low ferns, like sweeping cobwebs from the porch ceiling.
In her book bag: condoms and grape soda. Once, she poured some out, a bluish foam erupting from some poor bastard’s anthill. This was over twenty years ago, when the mice shook the gold stalks ahead of us.
There was the plantation, down the long road, down past No Trespassing through the clearing and up yonder. When I stood on her shoulders I could not climb into the window, that’s how tall: an eleven-foot totem glinting of cheap flea market Tommy Hilfiger and stolen mood rings.
But we didn’t come for that, but for the sinking soil with stones knuckling all around our feet. We cried together and séanced together for the nameless, asking them to introduce themselves.
She took a shit by the plantation house once. Yelling for me to stay away. This is just some memory that I’ve kept, offhanded like singing the same song in the shower. I haven’t seen her in so long.
Ona, a place with fossils. I found a few back then and I put them in a purple caboodle. We excavate the past. This helps us remember, but with me, I dig up, no, not trilobites, but coprolite. I see her brown hair next to the white house, her laughing out, her leaving behind some funny piece of herself.
I’m alone on Wednesdays, ambling along some cut path along the ruddy creek. Completely
aimless—my trench covered in coffee—I decided to “let go,” be free, and idyllically recline in the clovered grass by some white ash trees.
Something stinks. I look for the culprit. I’m sitting in it, of course. Coffee and shit on my “teaching trench,” the one with the big pockets. I store wrappers and paper clips there. A toy dog kicks with his back legs, sending grass into the air like kindergarten ribbon.
The trench flaps wildly as I walk flâneur-style through the park. The same park where I ate cheese subs with a girlfriend. We smoked and stumbled to the gas station to chug cokes. The spume tickling our noses and these friends pop up in my feed because I star them. They are stars in my universe.
The literary inside jokes about Ted Hughes and Santa Claus on his Crag and Levon Helm—there’s no image on the screen for that because it wasn’t a thing yet. No calling forth that past instantly. It’s hardwired.
Shadows from the ash trees stretch over the meanderings written on my phone. Tabs open with these girlfriends and their faces and the faces of these tiny new people that are 50% them. I can’t know them. I just watch them.
Bits of paper fly out of my pocket and land in the forever spewing fountain and there she was in the dark, mist and mischief, a jumpy creature I had to adjust my eyes to see back then. Hydrogens propulsed into the air, showering down over us like a translucent Fourth of July.
So, I like like like these new people that are her and not her and I add them to the constellation of my life and they orbit her planet like new moons, shifting the dark, shifting the light. I drive home swerving as I text her, hi .