Told to bear all kinds of hurt,
I gulped the whole bird down.
a fearful animal become me.
Its dread still flit feather,
I hope the flock ends here:
rafters of rib too far apart to roost.
I breathe in this anxious bird,
its caw and keel—
its beak and claws
are sure to shred my lungs.
When he launched the shot glass at my face,
the ant farm flinched.
The moths rose from the wool
like frantic sentinels,
snakes writhed from stoop,
cockroaches strewn like
a fresh bed of mulch,
a sea of stale toffees,
bats flapped farewell, beetles galloped,
and on the porch, unlit with fireflies,
a crickets’ ballad faded.
This riddled habitat—this not-a-home—
now heavy with the rot
of once before. Of ended.
I feel this body is not my body.
It’s more like I’m custodial staff,
expected to maintain this building forever.
The construction might be impressive,
but I spend a fortune on wood polish,
brass cleaner, industrial vacuums.
The floors creak. My spine is a stairwell
and my mind is a skylight.
I think of the emergency exit
when it’s too much to manage
for an unpaid position.
When visitors complain, I say I’m sorry,
I merely work here,
the conditions are what they are.
I can only change so much.
I can’t rebuild; the demolition is too costly.
I don’t know who would pay for it.
The City Dump
I visit to admire what I’ve made:
a colonnade for rats and flies.
A gallery of human wants.
This foothill, the ambition of a god—
a decade for a ridge
and a lifetime for a peak.
We assemble our annual elephant
of trash, admire our hall
of misplaced wonders.
Here, the earth is heavy
with the labors of its former loves.
Gutter crabs mostly eat cigarette butts
and slide around sewers on slime trails.
They have no natural predators
but breed slowly, couples decreed
by glorious crustacean nation.
They’ve seen no sunsets, but hear tales
from their grandfathers.
They daub the tunnels’ flap gates
with rust and moss. They painstakingly
depict the world; these pungent,
Gutter crabs don’t pretend to have a purpose.
They don’t bother.
they work, they cry, they dream.
They crash into waste treatment systems
and poison the soil. They become radioactive.
There is no logic to happiness.
It might be a learned trait,
or something in the water.
CHRISTINA BEASLEY (www.christinabeasley.com) is a D.C.-based writer, civil servant, poetry editor for Barrelhouse, and amateur cryptozoologist. Her work has appeared in Copper Nickel, Hobart, Atlanta Review, The Pinch, The Southampton Review, and elsewhere. She has participated in residencies with Virginia Quarterly Review, Atlantic Center for the Arts, and Southern Illinois University. She is pursuing her M.F.A. with the Bennington Writing Seminars.