“Speaking of Birds” by Gray Thomas

Gray Thomas


When she spoke
birds flew from her mouth
and flew around the room.
At first, we thought “beautiful.”
What a marvelous spectacle. 
A nightingale
Then a swallow.
Then a cockatoo. 
A parade of birds.
After the seventh 
we became concerned.
He aspired 
to become a bluebird.
He focused on turning his hair
into feathers, turning his voice 
into chirps, his feet 
into tiny talons.
He gave up his career 
in finance. One day
someone asked him 
about dividends.
He pecked at their oxfords.
When she spoke
she spoke only of him.

from Rattle #80, Summer 2023


Gray Thomas: “This poem was composed after a writing prompt provided by the Salt Lake Community College Writing Center during an April 30/30 challenge. Due to the nature of the challenge, it was written hastily at a bar with a buzz of activity swirling around me. Sometimes I enjoy plucking the vibrations of people surrounding me—as though my pen is a needle on a seismograph measuring an earthquake.” (web)

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