Thirteen Myna Birds


Wish You Were Here

Dad, I wish you were here during this time of pandemic.

You’d put on your solemn, retired-doctor face and tell me to wash my hands like you showed me. Surgeons wash their hands by lathering up to the elbows. I haven’t forgotten how.

Remember that box of 100 disposable latex gloves you gave me? You’d pull them on before working around the house (you loved fixing things)—and we grownup kids made fun of you, saying you thought you were performing surgery when you revived the broken fridge—I’ll wear them now, I swear.

And you’d ask me to check on my siblings every week—as oldest, it’s my duty—I promise I won’t reply (like I used to)—Why is it MY job?—Well, somebody’s got to keep this family together.

If you were here, I’d want to give you a big hug. And when we stopped ourselves from embracing for fear of the virus—it would kill me,

although each day in the year since your passing kills me softly,

although I look on the bright side like you taught me, and, at least, crying doesn’t attract the virus.

~Eileen Murphy~



“If things go upside down....”

The virus rolls out
of bed

slips into bloodstained
swim trunks,

its “Make America Great”
shower cap,

a can
of Red Bull--

make that Jim Beam—
instead of
brushing teeth--)

& skips taking
a shower.

It grins
as it grabs
the machete
leaning on the wall
next to the door,

& tests
the blade

by slicing through
a brick
of newspapers,

a pile
hotel towels,

and a romance novel
a half-dressed
buxom woman

and a tall,
old man.







No rain, it’s a drought.
Sky is cloudless; birds don't sing.
Folks ill from virus.

I take off my mask.
My lungs breathe in the humid
Florida spring air.

My lawn turns yellow.
The soil looks like dried pebbles.
People stay at home.

Quarantine lasts weeks.
The air is clean, and the days
Are quiet as death.

Now that the gym’s closed,
My only joy is eating
Little Debbie cakes.

No face mask / but thanks!
I’ll stay home with my cell phone
and new computer.

This is my Spring Break.
A trip to the beach canceled,
I pace my front yard

Video chatting
With my friend who lives in Rome.
Yes, so far, she lives.



The sounds I make when I’m not well are the sounds I make when I’m covered in snow.  With large birds in my hair. In a tiny forrest.  Where I’m transcribing documents that were written by ghosts with feathers and dust.

I am writing this from a seance.

With my hair full of grief and a handful of stems.  And I’m covered with ants.  And I’m dropping fish over the breakwater and laughing.

With gum in my hair and my hands full of fish.  Because I’m trying to grow my heart here, it’s so tiny.  Ants are tiny too.

This is a period-piece in which I cry in the snow
like a sack full of birds. 

This is a note written in the voice of a very wild animal.

~Sara Lefsyk~



Remember when you called me from that seance?  I was standing outside the library of miniature dresses vomiting butter and screaming at the top of my lungs

with a note from my pen-pal pinned to my chest.  Or it was late-night in the asylum and we were wearing the dress of altered states. 

I had on the face of an animal over the mask of a girl.  Today I am mostly a small pod with a bigger pod someplace inside, I said.

But my stablemate was at the edge of a valley creating stars and renaming constellations.  “My frame of reference is a system of cosmology,”  she explained, “sometimes, I can’t tell the stars from other people’s faces.”

She stands disguised between the eve of lemons, clutching a misidentified bird stomach.  She is sacrificing various small birds and even smaller animals to the fern of self-abuse.

With her hair full of gum and her heart full of moths, she is a cemetery of antiseptic gestures.  “I am playing a game called Think Life Is Coming,” she says, with her mouth full of ants and her hands full of fish,

“I am using the voice of everything.”

~Sara Lefsyk~



Thank you for recording over that film of me with a documentary about a doll falling out of a tree.

In a film about loss, if my heart is open, then it is wounded and my name is a garden carved out with a knife. In a film about memory, if the door is closed, then my heart is a needle dropped into the sea.

I was rolling around in some flowers with vomit in my hair.

I was wounded in the sand in a scene from a postcard.

If my second-heart was hovering above me, then I was locked in the prayer-room, licking the deadbolt and prey-whispering in the voice of my penpal.

Once, when I dreamt that I was an animal drowning in the sea, I woke up tearing out my hair and biting holes through the sheets, haunted by the odd shapes of fish inside my own godless hover.

Once, when I worshipped a very sad saint, I let my tears drop into the light sockets.  Inside the memory of my half-opened heart, I was lifted onto the shoreline of my dreams.

~Sara Lefsyk~



[mod clock breakdown]

line of gasses forming
in the sky––
another dog-phenomenon
without a name

the shape of spilled fluid
is one transformation
awaiting phase change
or insectile greed

broken clock
is the name
of my familiar

what was thought
high incantation
turned out to be
a drunk slurring
the periodic table

the organ’s mod rhythms
are as outdated
as a tin-foil miniskirt

faster than cancer
every sky ends
with nameless colors

~Patrick Hurley~



[quotidian crash]

utilitarian fantasies
toss a few dozen
flying machines
into the air and
wait for them
to come down

take these new pills
and calm down

the sketchbooks
are scattered

black roots decaying
but the ancient cities
could be rebuilt with
access to the right
heavy metals

the name of some
local deity
is hissed like a curse

the control module
has been jammed
by fragments


Giallo Red
After Suspiria (1977 version)

Susie in virgin white
crushed blue velvet rooms
the night, pelting rain, you can taste it
reds, so neon, so bloody
black stockings, white slip on a clothesline
acid yellow, a glint of knives
blue, the color of a scream
a peacock glows gaudy as
enter the final labyrinth

you enter the dance---
you could die from it, you’re so
pure, so pure against the red
brocade, the vines, the irises.

flowers carry sickness here.

The last of the night-blooms
with all of its poisons,

waits for you here

~Sarah Nichols~



The Motionless Daughter (Suzy)
After Suspiria (2018)

My horror is

It awakens, my
motionless daughters,

the feet which
dance by themselves.

I speak the language of darkness.

Old, old, a collapse of
women and

painted gods.

My body, that nurse of

a house so

only I

see it

This is a found poem. Source: Freud, Sigmund. “The Uncanny,” in Psychological Writings and Letters. Sander L. Gilman, ed. Alix Strachey, trans. New York: Continuum. 1995, 121-153. Print.

~Sarah Nichols~



The Fairy Spirit of the Amaryllis



Nice Girls Negotiate With Terrorists

Nice girls believe the world
will not hear our cries,
so we carry the burdens
of ourselves and our sisters.

Nice girls sit in the sun,
our parceled out gift,
payment for our silence.

We work the 9-5 shift,
giving terrorists a piece of us each day;
backs broken from the burdens
they refuse to carry. 

Shift managers and supervisors
demand and take,
take and demand,
without remorse
because they can.

No one notices mistakes of
program managers, though
mistakes are condemned
when committed by those
hanging on the bottom rung
of the corporate ladder.