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I. Cuckoo

The clock blinks four a.m. in orange
It happens every night.
It doesn't care if you sleep sound
Or toss and turn in fright.

This is the hour of the cuckoo;
The grey hour, when headlights scatter shadows
Through venetian blinds to dance across the wall.
The moon has been veiled by clouds.
The house creaks and settles. Sighing.
And you’re old enough to know
Nothing will come creeping out your closet
With reaching hands and pointy teeth.
In the grey hour, when nothing is really real
It’s easy enough to whisper “No.”
To tell yourself that this is not really happening.
But,

The clock blinks four a.m. in orange
And this is what it means:
It doesn't care if you can’t sleep
Or have untroubled dreams.


II. Owl

As her emblem, the Goddess Athene chose the owl.
Warlike and wise nightbird with so-sharp talons
And golden furious eyes unblinking.
Wisdom and weaving were two of her arts.
But another was war.
And even the coolest strategist knows,
War is unpretty: All violence and bloodshed.
The owl does not hesitate to slay the mouse.
And I would take up arms
And I would fight until the strength has left me.

This isn't fair.

Better to claw and kick and scream and cry
Than fade into nothingness.

Better to stab and hew and pierce and scorn
Than become forgotten.


III. Raven

Crafty trickster, I stand at the crossroads and wonder
Will you give me the leverage to make a deal?
I don’t like the doorway I opened
I don’t want to unwrap the gift I’ve been given.
I’ll wear red in the springtime and laugh at
All his bad jokes if only you say you’ll trade me
Something different.
I’ll watch what I eat and teach children to sing
I won’t take the moon for granted,
Even when it’s not really the moon
But only the glow from the globe of a streetlight.


IV. Whippoorwill

Sometimes the pretty fictions peel away
Like the skin of an orange.
But the fruit beneath is sour and hard.
I have to get those nice shirts from the cleaners.
I bought the white one on-sale in New York
That night I danced and I laughed
And I didn’t even care that I spilled brandy
All down its front.

I have to get those nice shirts from the cleaners.
The cleaner man will see my fleshy lips
And puffy eyes and how I shiver
Even though it’s still the summer
And ask me what’s wrong.
I won’t get those nice shirts from the cleaners.

Why bother?

The shirts, even the white one that still
Smells a little like brandy, will one day
End up tatters, rags and windblown dust.


V. Sparrow

Thank you for sharing this one moment with me.
I believe in grace and also I believe
That we are graceful, amazing beings.
Who sometimes miss the miracles we are.
Thank you, even if you are tired, or angry
Or can’t stand the sound of my voice.
There is still some wonder in the world
And I’m grateful that we’re part of it