Adam Vines and Allen Jih

1. Easter, 1932

“There is no place in heaven
for the pets of the world,” my father’s iron words
cascaded through the wall.
In our room, a worn path made an oval

in the oak floor around our bed.
Our plan to build a bridge from bird bones failed.
The preacher promised more than the pleasantries
passed from a crumbed mouth, butter on the lips.

Our family gathered in the kitchen,
deriding the pots and pans, spatulas and ladles.
The haze sliding across the horizon
afforded us silence. The obscenities

spoken into empty Mason jars
reinvented themselves into the migrating robins
teetering on the dead tree.

2. Normandy

The city walls, the tortures—
all of it was built in pathways for insects.
Lead me, my brother, whisper
how I spent my first days.

When the coffin lids are hammered shut,
will anyone stay on guard?
How many doors have I locked in my life,
how many lovers have returned home on trains?

We traveled through cities of fire
with the manners of goat-men.
The pigeons we fed became our maps.
The streets were still slick

with the drawl and shit of refugees.
The children were abused, ousted by the way
they refused to speak
when the sky turned dark and the curtsy

of rifles danced in front of their faces.
The shadows held drinks of lingering voices,
the way you spoke to me
about the world still too naïve to please anyone.

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