Poem of the Week #6

Standard

We’re continuing our discussion of metaphor. Students in one class loved this, in the other absolutely hated it. Go figure.

The Panic Bird

just flew inside my chest. Some
days it lights inside my brain,
but today it’s in my bonehouse,
rattling ribs like a birdcage.

If I saw it coming, I’d fend it
off with machete or baseball bat.
Or grab its scrawny hackled neck,
wring it like a wet dishrag.

But it approaches from behind.  
Too late I sense it at my back —
carrion, garbage, excrement.
Once inside me it preens, roosts,

vulture on a public utility pole.
Next it flaps, it cries, it glares,
it rages, it struts, it thrusts
its clacking beak into my liver,

my guts, my heart, rips off strips.
I fill with black blood, black bile.
This may last minutes or days.
Then it lifts sickle-shaped wings,

rises, is gone, leaving a residue —
foul breath, droppings, molted midnight
feathers. And life continues.
And then I’m prey to panic again.

 

Robert Phillips
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