12/10/07 – 01/20/10

upon your birth I wrote
a song

about blood,

letting of,
tasting of,
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

as one,

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.
Poured poison
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

life. you
cannot read. we knew nothing
of your brother. I felt him
at night.

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
you uncovered.

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.

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