Happy Halloween from THIRTEEN MYNA BIRDS!


The nightmare

The nightmare is always crawled through with demons. There they are, crawling like vipers upright, soaked in black, grey, vomit-olive. Black symbols on red armbands pulse with inverted light. Two demons grab me, one at each wrist. My best friend, kicked to the corner of the room, mouth torn open, stomach punched in. She is so little. Like a tiny broken mouse. I cannot get to her. The demon on my left runs out away from me, stretching my left arm with him. The demon on my right runs out away from me, stretching my right arm with him. I’m stretched like a rubber gumby but since I’m not made of rubber my shoulder bones have popped and broken…the air is striped white and red but I cry cry cry for her only. The tiny punched mouse in the corner. Then comes demon three, and he’s tearing my mouth, puncturing my stomach to match hers. Always suddenly, the stretching stops, the violence ends. I try to run to the corner that cups her, crumpled, and am intercepted by demons one, two, three. They’ve morphed into a roiling black, grey, vomit-olive wall. Out of the wall, three arms extend, three index fingers point rigidly towards the door. I cannot go to her. So I sop like a half-squished inchworm out of the house, and as I turn to look back, it dissolves into grey ash on the ground. Then even the ash disappears.



Snake People

once blood of the chicken
falls on a wooden box
she removes the white shroud
from her head
begins to touch her legs
to know she is alive

~Joris Soeding~



The Errand

if only it could be about this meadow
forked trees and a rabbit in the stream
yet there are rabid bats
and the boy’s closet door creaks open
somehow he must down the switch
with seconds to the blue down comforter

a man’s arms and legs shudder in his own hallway
something has torn through the locked screen door

the boy explains to his mother
“it’s not a monster, it’s just a doggy”
alternator light is on and the ignition muted
though every dog must become sleepy
from the home of the mauled mechanic
a rotary phone continues to ring over a dozen times

~Joris Soeding~




with wife and son he returns home after twenty-seven years
first hanging a Chicago Cubs poster

everything takes him to the train tracks
library books and a house key with red rabbit’s foot

can’t ward off that tunnel with his brother
even the greasers, with their blades and chucks, can’t run

three of them trapped behind flames of a black ’55 Chevy
freight illuminates those unforgettable walls

today they’re his students, history class, seniors
white shirts remarkably crisp, glazed leather jackets

they need him and the one that scrambled
they need to reenact it without error for chance without hell

~Joris Soeding~



Oskar & Eli

Mimicking his bully, he asks the tree in snow to squeal
unsheathing a knife from his jacket, thrusting it into the bark
behind him is the new girl from apartment 15

at the pool they call for him, declining stairs
unfound at his locker

in the courtyard at night he begins a Rubik’s Cube
loans it to the girl until Monday
her belly growls after he departs

she returns it, early and solved
demonstrates to him colors, sides, first rotations
he examines her hair, cowered, in stark lights

band-aid to cheek, he tells mom that he fell on a rock at recess
the truth is only for the girl
whipped by one of three boys in the pool parking lot after hours

he introduces Morse code to her
knuckles sliding on the wall well after dinner and TV

on lake’s ice he hits the leader in the ear
it still bleeds despite much gray from mouths

he treads the pool, spitting water repeatedly, playful
one of the boys begins to speak
almost apologetic and trying too hard to be friendly
she looks through the window, unnoticed
hand on the glass and conversant with his enemies

~Joris Soeding~




She bit her nail
Not delicately, as one would expect
With her thin fingers
And smooth wrists
No, she ripped it off
The entire nail
In one swift jerk

Blood rose from
The nail bed
And she pressed it against her lips
Smearing red
Over those thin, chapped petals

And in that moment
She was a crow
Picking at the stringy innards
Of a headless squirrel
Blood on her beak
And an unsettling intelligence
In her black eyes.

~Madelyn Falk~



Pet Heart

I have a pet heart
I keep him in a $10 plastic cage
He doesn’t move much
But you can see him breathing


Rather beating
He doesn’t like to be touched
So I usually leave him alone
But I will admit
To taking him out
And holding him
A time or two

His skin is tacky
Like a frog’s
Before I owned him
I didn’t know
That hearts are amphibians

Or that they eat crickets

I know they say
You should feed them worms as well
But I like to supplement worms
With words

I usually forget about him
Sitting on my counter
He’s pretty quiet
Except for at night
If you listen closely
Sometimes you can hear him crying
Or maybe it’s just the worms
Rolling through the gravel.

~Madelyn Falk~




I cut the face
Off of someone else
And strapped it to my own
You can see the string
Making an indent in my hair
If you look closely

I had to use a hole punch
Before I could get the yarn through
There are pieces of my hair
Caught in the yarn

I tied the bow myself

At first the face fit perfectly
Even the eyelids aligned
It looked like I had lots of eyelashes

But the skin dried
Into a wrinkled prune

Now the lips don’t move with mine
So when I talk
I look like a puppet

I should probably take it off
But I’m scared that the dark
Cultured mold on my face

Everyone else is wearing a wrinkled face
And I don’t want people
To think I’m weird.

~Madelyn Falk~



She’s Burnt Her Hair Again

All up the left-hand side of her head
and she rocks jerkily back and forth
in a mechanical mid-speed rhythm.
Dribbling chalky medication tasting spittle
carefully out of the corner of her mouth
to drop between her bare-self-harmed-knees
to add to the gob butterfly she is making
upon the grey square linoleum tile
down between her swollen, dangerous feet.
There is a Guard sat bored 4ft away
daydreaming of normal things
and wishing to be somewhere else.
It takes stamina, tenacity, patience and practice
to get the rocking motion perfect.
If she changes pitch or frequency even slightly
a cog might slip, a wheel derail
and The Fracture which dwells inside her forehead
will open up again and swallow whole
a big bunch of her ’Happy Ever After’s’



[autumn wind]

You have chopped off every head
Every head-shaped
Or every head-like object

In the wild field is left nothing
But stumps, each as naked as a human soul
Shivering within a skeleton



The First Time

I read my name
in the obituary column
and realized
for the first time
that I could read.

I heard my name
through the lips of a deaf mute
and realized
for the first time
that I could hear.

I saw my name
on a tombstone after dark
and realized
for the first time
that I could see.

I spoke my name
after cutting out my tongue
and realized
for the first time
that I could speak.

I whispered your name
after sex
and realized
for the first time
that we were dead.




I’m choking down your left handed compliments like rusty nails.
You’re the only person I know who somehow makes sarcasm sexy.
Before I could even think about choking the chicken you walked into the room and did the heavy lifting for me.

I thought I was crazy about you until realizing I’m just plain crazy and look forward to rubber walls and three square meals a day.
They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but I always sleep until the late afternoon so I am basically screwed.
I remember the first time I saw the inside of a coffin and how cozy and peaceful it looked to me.

My grandpa didn’t want to be buried because he didn’t want the worms to eat him.
I couldn’t agree more and look forward to when I’m cremated so I don’t feel trapped underground like a zombie with no sense of humor.
Don’t fall behind or you’re liable to never regain your footing and trust me that’s not a good thing in a world where the undead are more popular than the living.



Poetry Month

Poetry month taunts me with Irish voices sha la laying over green rainbows.
Poets wander the streets drunk. Becoming midnight brawlers.
Disturbing the peace. Crowding the intersections, they block traffic.
Impromptu slams are organized, carousels installed at every crosswalk.
Jugglers work round the clock to ensure security. Drivers are distracted.
Their brains extracted by the poems. 
Then carefully scooped back in through their ears.
Air is let from tires. Mufflers are plugged. Cars hijacked. 
Mimes strip to their skins.
Some firm. 
Others unroll themselves like carpets all the way down to the Old Port.
Quebec culture smashes its head over and over on Canada's marble bathroom door until shining streams of Leonard Cohen songs flow mercurially from its ears. 
Neil Young lets a big fart out his tar sands ass. 
The Prime Minister is painted red and feathered, the fucking turkey.
The mayor of Toronto gives a fuck, the way the Graf Zeppelin gave a fuck.
School buses sprout wings and leave on a Chinese Tolkienesque rescue mission.
I climb to the top of the mountain bearing the ring that binds us all.
Unhook my jaw from my skull. Plug my guitar into a tree. 
Download the lyrics to a prayer and hit send on my bellybutton.
The leaves begin singing clear. Cleaner than any monitor.
Sha la la la la la la la. La-la la la la la la la la.