Rachel Mallino posts a poem every Friday and I like that idea, so I’m stealing it.

originally published in Boxcar Poetry Review

4 Sentenced for Smashing Bluebird Houses

Associated Press—October 22, 2006

There’s a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him, I say, stay in there
I’m not going to let anybody see you

—Charles Bukowski


Who knows. Maybe it was the “tu-wheet, tu-du”
song wafting down the valley
into their Megadeath-studded ears
each day drove them to it, incited
a taste for crushed wings, flayed embryos.
Or a kind of supernatural ennui,
extreme boredom of alien magnitude
and throw in terminal lack
of imagination that makes random violence
the only reason worth getting up
in the morning. At home,
maybe their own songs snuffed.
Someone with fists, a voice like a wrecking ball.

Hard to say what triggered the first blow,
which jaded, malevolent teenager
cruising the Great Falls that day
noticed the trees, the trail of handmade
nesting boxes. Which one thought
to run for his crowbar, ignite
his friends’ hatred, their nitroglycerin-laced
veins to join him, make the forest
a dark canvas, kingdom
for their hellish art. Who knows
how many blows felled
fulfilled the bloody masterpiece—
the wham-wham-wham of iron
striking wood: yellow yolk, red bone,
those illusory blue feathers
labored into nightmarish relief
of sixty dead birds.


I know in sixth grade
what it means
to have stayed late,
day we huddled over a fish tank—
four of us with X-actos.
To stab the striped bellies,
slit their still-wriggling middles.
To watch and say nothing
as the popped, ringed eyes
became marbles, filmed over,
purple soup flowering
from the stiff, flopped sides.
(like those boys, those bird-killers)
To feel nothing then except
some imperceptible measure
of the soul bled out:
invisible rustle, phantom fluttering,
a minor, feather-like commotion—
to think of it now, air
barely disturbed by the parting.

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