Flecks of starlings peck pieces from a fried wing
on the asphalt by the driver’s side door.
A black tourniquet of beaks in the church lot,
they tug skin, gorge themselves on bird.
I tie the yellow flag above the knee
of a discarded church pew, bulk of weight
like legs hung out the back of my pickup.
Given new life on my living room floor,
my guests are a banquet of legs during a party,
the rug like cloth on a wooden kneeler. At night,
I recline nude on its long cushion, a figure study
in blasphemy. I make it a point to have sex on its length
because it saddens me as much as it excites.
It took this much drift to see God was always
the drunk driver. He was night, then crumpled
chassis and rubber streaks on pavement. Lights on,
the houses on the block watch an accident
with open windows. He’s the harrowing of birds,
orb of flock against the skyline, curling black
helices and spheres of starlings. They murmur
meaning out of collective movement, the loss
of self. I rest my head on the deadened shoulder
of the divine to fall sleep and my arm goes numb.
The ribcage puffs out before angel wings
are placed on a wooden beam and amputated.
It’s what I want to feel—something between
feathers and abandon, something as light
as baked loaves in a basket—against all these odds.
US-Argentinian poet and translator LUCIAN MATTISON is the author of three books of poetry, Reaper’s Milonga (YesYes Books, 2018), Peregrine Nation (Dynamo Verlag, 2017), and Curare (C&R Press, forthcoming). His work has won the Puerto Del Sol Poetry Prize and appears in numerous journals including Catamaran, CutBank, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Hobart, [PANK], The Offing, Sixth Finch, and Third Coast. He is currently based out of the Bay Area and is an associate editor of poetry for Barrelhouse.