THERMOS 10: Two Poems by Hunter Deely

Two poems from our special issue of THERMOS featuring Hunter Deely’s poetry. You can check back every couple days in the coming month for more of his poetry. For an introduction, see here.

the magnificent violence of birds

Some things mark you.

A dove in the jaws of a rattlesnake, the white
halo of feathers and the astounding

stillness as the two bones worked
the body down.

Pinned the neck with a cedar branch and cut it
with a dull axe.

Dropped the head and rattle in a mason jar with salt.

Some music in the scales’ pattern. How eyes
clip the evening light at the edge of the field,

and we turn in their gaze, sick
with dove meat and dry corn, how to set a blade

to flesh gets the blood thick in your arms.

From the radio tower we saw the city
like a yellow rose browning at the edges.

We saw redbirds vomit
white blood on a forest of invasive species.

Some years later I was on a train through Mississippi,
birds in the pine trees watched me pass

through a strange hill country, as I thought back to
the garden offset by stones in the woods,

how we stuck the feathers in our pores and climbed
the tower to see if the signal would carry us

with the poison bitter in our mouths, to our common
dream of safe passage

through the bird, into the snake.

the magnificent violence of birds

A bird on corroded tires.
Burning clover,               blue
                beach where birds go
when they sleep.

The logic of the swerve, to be / guided
by the chance of your
                              body detecting
      the echo of waves / on rising […]

We sleep in the dredging tower
laid on its side in the river, distant
                smoke. Look up
                                now. See—the space collapses.

                The insects all
      extend from a single body.

The cartwheeling girls
in the clover trying to forget […] / Leaves

unfurling from the rusty generator in sand.

Two bells tolling at the same time.

The same time.

Two bells unfurling,
one long



[…] Watch the insects through glass,
through a certain peace / staring up
                from the junkyard, disappears,
that is, to unexist,

one leaves unfurling
from a bell

echo of a shadow


a dead bird in the waves.


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