upon your birth I wrote
and a man writing
in cursive in blood
flung from his fingernails
planting the remnants
of torn hearts in black loam
to grow a forest
where we’ll stand, listening
to wind in the leaves like the hissing of a sea shell –
They had come for you.
The dead men.
In the song.
not a good day to be born.
it had started
but rain moved in. voices
clapped in a concrete stairwell. I sat made
of paper, waiting
to be called
to a slaughter.
Your brother was never like this. you
and your brother are the
same one. Upon your birth I drew a picture
of men emptied
like gutted scarecrows.
They had come for you. or maybe
your brother. upon your birth I carved
a gun from soap. you choked,
I stuck my fingers down your throat.
Upon your birth I chopped down every tree.
into the river. we moved upstream. I moved
the blanket from your mouth.
The day of your birth
I took the center
of the road, I burnt the cars, I killed
the dogs, I slapped the kids, I got
it over with. the day of your birth I heard nothing but machines.
a single cloud, heartshaped, crossed the January sky –
your brother and I
can make nothing out of this.
for seven months we watched your breath, you wouldn’t
die. I wished you were a demon.
the day of your birth we listened
to a train, the same
that killed your second cousin’s father.
we listened to the wolves. I felt your face
eating through from behind mine. I will write this until you die. more so
than your brother. I’m not finished. the day of your birth
we collected worms, brought
them home to live. we’d read they foster
cannot read. we knew nothing
of your brother. I felt him
The day you were born
I built a house from razor wire. we learned to bleed. I taught you
falling. I taught
you not to kill. Not
what I taught your brother. the day of your birth it rained. I’d left
Adam Phillips currently splits his time between Boise, where he makes a living teaching and coaching junior high kids, and Rockaway Beach, Oregon, where he doesn’t. In both venues, he’s lucky enough to be accompanied by his beautiful brilliant wife and small strepitous sons. If you like his writing, you can see more of it in current or forthcoming issues of The Oddville Press, Blue Monday Review, Scarborough Fair, Dark Dossier, Blotterature, Clockwise Cat, and The Commonline Journal. His first novel, Something Like My Name, will be put out by Propertius Press this summer.