The Panic Bird

by The Dreamer

just flew inside my chest. Some 

days it lights inside my brain, 

but today it’s in my bonehouse, 

rattling ribs like a birdcage. 
If I saw it coming, I’d fend it 

off with machete or baseball bat. 

Or grab its scrawny hackled neck, 

wring it like a wet dishrag. 
But it approaches from behind. 

Too late I sense it at my back — 

carrion, garbage, excrement. 

Once inside me it preens, roosts, 
vulture on a public utility pole. 

Next it flaps, it cries, it glares, 

it rages, it struts, it thrusts 

its clacking beak into my liver, 
my guts, my heart, rips off strips. 

I fill with black blood, black bile. 

This may last minutes or days. 

Then it lifts sickle-shaped wings, 
rises, is gone, leaving a residue — 

foul breath, droppings, molted midnight 

feathers. And life continues. 

And then I’m prey to panic again.

By Robert Philips 

This poem floated to the front of my consciousness today during lessons, when I was struck with the crippling, paralysing fear of everything and nothing. My teachers had on grave faces and gravelly voices and I was so…so afraid.

j e a n x x 

钧 x x 

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