What Rough Beast | Poem for January 25, 2017

Elizabeth Jacobson
Perfectly Made

Northern Flicker you woke me from dark sleep, your head
slammed into my window, neck snapped as you dropped
to the frozen ground. I had been dreaming of Gettysburg,
can you imagine? Our fathers brought forth a new nation,
conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
So perfectly made, I put my nail between the split of your beak, pulled
out the long worm of your tongue as if it were a measuring tape
coming out of its case, let go and watched it coil back, then
my fingers in your spotted under-down, a marvel, so
warm, so warm, in the bitter morning; I felt history
toying with itself as I stretched your stiffening
wings as far as they would spread and plucked out the stunning
bright orange tail feathers, one after the next, each quill spilling
a black ichorous ink onto my palms.


Elizabeth Jacobson is the author of A Brown Stone (Dancing Girl Press, 2015), Her Knees Pulled In (Tres Chicas Books, 2012), and Are the Children Make Believe? (forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press, 2017). Her recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in American Poetry Review, Orion Magazine, Hinchas de Poesia, Ploughshares, and Plume. Jacobson is the recipient of the Mountain West Writers’ Award from Western Humanities Review, The Jim Sagel Prize for Poetry from Puerto del Sol, a grant from New Mexico Literary Arts, and residencies from Atlantic Center for the Arts and Herekeke. She holds an MFA from Columbia University. Jacobson is the founding director of the WingSpan Poetry Project which conducts poetry classes at local shelters. She teaches in the Creative Writing program at the Santa Fe Community College.

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