Monday Nov 20

Girmay Aracelis Girmay is the author of the collage-based picture book, changing, changing, and the collection of poems entitled Teeth. She is a Cave Canem Fellow and board member of the Acentos Foundation. Girmay grew up in Santa Ana, California and currently lives in Brooklyn. She teaches at Queens College, the Bronx Poetry Project for middle schoolers, and in Drew University's low-residency MFA program.
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All Day Long the Birds Shout Phebus! Phebus!

All day long the birds shout Phebus! Phebus!
& the geese, if I didn't know better,
would sound like donkeys. & they do.
& somewhere, a girl loves a boy with her dark hand,
& we come upon them in the park
where the walkway is so skinny
that my dress-hem catches fire
when we pass. & just like that,
my mother chopping onions far away
sees a volcano at the kitchen table
& puts the knife down to call,
& the telephone rings, but I am out
without it, & rings, & the day goes on howling
through the branches, over the giant park-green
going up & down. & the boy losing his mind.

I am dying, or you. & the crow-headed women
running in the distance
from some devil or dog, I think,
over such grass in my eye.

& one by one, or two at a time,
something invisible snatches them up
by the black tumbleweed of their hair. & this
would be a myth, except it's not.

& to think, just this morning, I was one of them
walking out of my house
into the day's shrike brain.

All day long, someone is yanked
up into the sky or down into the mulch
or in his bed or trampled or headfirst,
face down, with or without the news.
& all day long, people going in & out
of each other, their houses, the supermarket.
Dying & coming & shopping for tomatoes
maybe at the same time. & to think,
people burn like this, simultaneously, in kitchens & beds,
the heady dusk of the public park
while children are learning songs. Oh, hair,
was the sky always so blue
as it is now, taking the jet-black & sequoia of our girls?
Every thing taking another thing home to bed
for one night or two nights
or, not even a night, or 600 days,
which is to say, Lifeguard, drop the whistle.
Mother, turn out the lights on your front-porch—
one day your girl will not come back. They tell me
you are gone, & all day long, the day goes on
bucking logic into the hills. How the geese dress the dusk
in donkey-call. How the sixteen stars keep time
as our bodies, in their different sleeps, are rearranged,
& we wake up wearing each other's clothes:
spider wearing my mouth like a room,
& the good black ant carries your small material,
some fleck of sugar hidden
in the silver backroom of your tooth, off
like a peony or a bone, & there you go.

All day long the wind wears Phebus' shoes.
I want to live longer knowing this.