Thursday, April 30, 2015

30 of 30: "There Are Birds Here" by Jamaal May

It's the last day of National Poetry Month, so I want to end with birds.

As Jamaal May will be reading tonight with Tarfia Faizullah and Matthew Olzmann at Literati Bookstore at 7 p.m., all the more reason to share my favorite of his poems.

Here is "There Are Birds Here" by Jamaal May:

            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.

30 of 30. Happy National Poetry Month!