Trio House Press
Publishing distinct voices in American poetry

Bird Brain by Matt Mauch

Matt Mauch is the author of Prayer Book (Lowbrow Press) and the chapbook The Brilliance of the Sparrow (Mondo Bummer). He hosts the annual Great Twin Cities Poetry Read, and also the Maeve’s Sessions readings, and edits the anthology Poetry City, USA, an annual collection of poetry and prose on poetry. A 2011 recipient of Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant, his poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Salt Hill, H_NGM_N, DIAGRAM, Willow Springs, The Los Angeles Review, South Dakota Review, Sonora Review, Water~Stone Review, ILK, NOÖ Journal, InDigest, and Spinning Jenny, and on the Poetry Daily and Verse Daily websites. Mauch teaches creative writing at Normandale Community College, and lives in Minneapolis.

The other magicians will kill me for revealing all this

 

If you shave your head, you can see with the eyes

at the back of your head

 

unless GET YOUR FORTUNE TOLD signs

hang over the lids there.

 

It takes one thousand one, one thousand two . . . about five seconds

for two people passing

 

to realize they met in the chapter on bees.

 

She had a hand on her pepper spray, a hand on her phone.

A hand pulling on rope to tell the executioner to stop.

 

In jacket weather you carry in your pocket

lip balm, five of your favorite mouths,

 

candy you wish it were okay to give away to kids,

which it isn’t, because of razor blades,

 

and apples, wackos

mixing the two,

 

which is why you feel hungover for drinking you didn’t do,

it’s the price of playing it cool.

 

The luxury of waiting for the light to change

hides (as luxuries do) the anxiety

 

the knees, as if bikini-clad and holding batons,

feel waiting for the signal to lead you

 

across the street. The brain after thinking

this about the knees

 

resolves that each of us is a pageant in storage.

It has time to send a memo to the feet and toes:

 

The distance between you and the passing traffic

is the distance a medium-sized jungle cat can stretch.

 

In case there are other brains

listening in,

 

yours passes a note, a crumpled ball you open

as carefully as you’d open a bud.

 

It says, One kind of bleeding to death is from cuts

made to the body by pillows and sheets while you sleep.

 

Small “m” myth: only girls

are afraid to walk alone at night.

 

The light’s green. It’s a whistle blown at a pitch

only you can hear.

 

What you can’t hear it saying

is go.