The earth is eating all the little birds.
It feasts, grows fat. Their eyes are stones, black jewels

we rattle in our pockets. Mouths are blurred
with sheen of flies, and all the pretty fools

are silent here, no careless songs, no tra-
la-la. The guns alone have voices now

that parse the shattered bones, an algebra
of rotting flesh where jackals slink and crouch.

As if in prayer, the camels kneel on sand
with groans and mutters shielded not by leaves

but by the thorns so like the strands from trees
that can be woven into crowns. The land

is pale with moonlight. Even stars repel
this earth and pull away. The round void swells.

Louise Murphy is a poet, novelist, and flautist living in Berkeley,
California. Sojourners

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