The sidewalk unfolds in front of me like a long, hot, charred dream — one you wake from sweaty and nervous, the birds chirping so loudly you grab a little hammer and bash their little brains in. Every step I take is another realization of all the mistakes I’ve made, smeared down in the asphalt like a piece of chewed-up Trident gum. I wanted to be Charles Dickens but I’m more like Charles Manson. The smokers stand outside on the patio watching me and my midnight, somnolent grazing. The bite-sized birds run in fear. I feed on their little hearts. The smokers shake their heads when I shake my fists.
One hundred degrees at midnight but I’m dressed in a jacket to prevent the flapping wings in my chest from breaking through. Can you hear me breathing when I’m kneeling before the pew and the priest’s hand warms my crown? Pieces of straw form a nest where my heart used to be. Can you see me dancing in the middle of the street where the cars form a conga line on my back?
The sky above and Earth below traps me in the middle.
Every word I ever spoke spirals and becomes a riddle.
The sidewalk turns vertical and I slide down to the abyss that sits at the bottom of this city. Every abuse and excess is contained here and I search for you knowing the day you cracked the shell was the day that the sky turned various colors of Easter eggs. There are scented candles burning here. Rotten butter. Gasoline. Durian. Everywhere I walk I’m faced with mirrors and in every mirror there is a smaller and smaller version of myself. Eventually I’m only a stone’s height. Behind that last mirror is a towering bird and I look up in time to see its giant beak coming down on me. Peck. Peck. Peck. Blood. Concussion. Blood.
I wake up in my bed sweaty and nervous. The day breaks outside like an American-made car approaching 200,000 miles. The alarm clock turns on and a generic radio song fills the room like ether. A tune you’d recognize even in the next life. I reach over and touch the emptiness of this one. My cold satin coffin bed knows nothing else. Outside on the bough of a pink flowering dogwood tree a little bird lifts its legs up and down like a child needing to pee. It looks at me with its little yellow eyes peering through my soul.
Jesus, is that you?
Inspired by the song LITTLE BIRDS by Neutral Milk Hotel