* * *
Own thy known.
swoop to low hoots,
or bolt, two bold moons.
No two got torn. Books
or told words hold rot.
Crooks took shots
or mop spooky blood.
Loss follows door locks.
Sorrow scorns dog body.
Worry stops, top to bottom.
On. Off. On. Grows smooth. Or not.
By your truth, you know.
Two owls surround you,
swoop by your low sounds
or struck out, two plum moons.
No sum? No such luck. Your clouds,
your rocks don’t doubt you.
Ugly boys tow your truck
but blow you smoky smooch.
Our loss got stuck, but knocks on our door.
Sorrow found your dog. Cut off your thumb.
Wound shuts up, top to bottom,
throughout. Blossom mourns growth.
In your room, you know this story:
two birds surround you,
flirting with your long ribbons
or tiny blind moons.
Dismiss this proportion. Mist
swims with brick in chilly pools.
Ugly boys rip forlorn cushions
from your truck but blow this smoky kiss.
Our lost girl is tricky, but knocks on our door.
Sorrow is your dog biting into your skin.
This wound shuts up, top to bottom,
out to in. It will grow smooth in sunlight.
In a room, you know this story:
that two birds surround you,
flirting around your long hair
or vanishing, tiny as twin mice.
Dismiss that proportion. Your shadow
and solid parts truly match.
Ugly boys rip front and back cushions
from your car but build you a smoky gift.
Our prodigal fails, but knocks on our door again.
Sorrow is a dog attacking your hand.
A cut shuts up, top to bottom,
out to in. It will grow smooth as a star.
Wherever you are reading this,
the two birds hover carefully.
They flirt at your earlobes
or disappear, tiny as twin satellites.
Whatever the proportion, you are fragile
and resilient in equal measure.
The thieves trade the leather seats
in the car for smoked upholstery.
The prodigal fails, but returns home.
Every sorrow is a dog bite to the hand.
It closes in on itself, top to bottom,
left to right. It seals up like a closed mouth.
* * *
the good captain orders a second ginger ale and reaches for the want ads on the bar
Just let my eyelids fly open
for the braided bearded hooded man
handing me a broken finch
and stepping out onto the dance floor.
Just let me see him.
Not his sweatshirt pocket where the bird will nest.
Not his frenzied eyes handing it back. I’m not attached!
_______________________Could teach you a whole new world of relationships!
Not the panic rising from behind that flag.
Not the bird lady’s flying room where all broken things are restored
or shot (It’s the law).
Not even his dancing partner, drowning to the music
hair wild as a combed-out brush fire.
* * *
Jennifer L. Hollis’s essays and articles have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Harvard Review, The Rumpus, and other publications. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Cagibi, Breakwater Review, Atlanta Review and 8 Poems. She is the author of Music at the End of Life: Easing the Pain and Preparing the Passage and is writing a book about what she has learned (and refuses to learn) from two decades working in end-of-life care. Hollis is the project director of Harps of Comfort, an organization that provides live, remote music for isolated patients with COVID-19. You can connect with her at https://jenniferhollis.com