Copy-Change: “There Are Birds Here” by Jamaal May

Copy-Change: “There Are Birds Here” by Jamaal May

Original Poem:

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.

Marie Cheng’s take:

There Are Stars Here
BY MARIE CHENG
For Her
There are stars here,
so many stars here
is what I was trying to say
when they said stars are what connect
lonely souls suffocating
under the blanket of night
and pillows of darkness. No.
The stars are here
to glitter for you, the girl
who tears at herself and
and tosses her skin like confetti. No,
I don’t mean the tears from moonlit razors,
I said confetti, and no
not the confetti
that leaks red into your trashcan.
I mean the confetti
a girl can’t stop smiling about
and no her smile isn’t much
different from a star at all. And no
her mouth is not like all that empty space.
I am trying to say
her mouth
is as reflective and fiery
as anything else,
as rainbows cast by crystals
and sun beams parted
by dancing curtains as anything else,
but they won’t stop saying
how tragic the beautiful,
how beautiful the tragic
girl must be in that starless night.



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