Three Poems

Destroyer of Worlds

Just like me to go searching

for something named Destroyer of Worlds.

Killer of coral, it rises

from the seafloor and writhes

with ravenous arms of toxic spines.

Just like me to sweettalk a star-

fish, a Crown of Thorns, to embrace

an envoy of brine and hunger.

And so much hunger—

a plague of need: enough to feast

on a reef, to be a terror of self-absorption.

Praise the rites of stars whose ardor

is plunder, whose desire is obscene

and god-sent, but could be my own

in a marginally darker universe.   

Lucy

Breakfast time, and the air is thick

with raptor cries. I try to hurry;

Lucy, a barn owl, unhinged by hunger,

lets fly her most sepulchral scream—

a music fit for ghosts. The noise never ceases

to shatter me, but it’s just her way,

and the frozen mice won’t thaw

fast enough to fill her.

She scrawls her signature in the air:

a mad rustle just above my ears

and just in time I lay out a tableau

of five dead mice, some still tinseled in loam

and woodchips. She slurps them up

one by one like a kid with a juice pack

until the last errant tail

dangles like an old shoe string from her beak.

This is her gift: making the macabre

comedy, even ordinary. I’ve seen the macabre.

It’s ordinary as the birds cramped in hampers

and boxes, their bodies blasted by cars,

their autopsies revealing pesticides

in the bloodstream. My species loves poisons.

And my cardinal virtue? A benefaction of rodents.

A breeze when I open the door to go.

Hunger:

more than the first ache.

Even in this alternate galaxy

where you are a jilted bride

of twilight, little peregrine,

with your tattered feathers

and your missing wing (a phantom wing?),

a torment of a twin, your loss is vast as sky.  

Would you prefer the wind

or the mercy of green

when shadows loom?

What time is it, Mr. Wolf?

Time again for escape:

when I approach, looming,

the old instinct rises in you

like an overrun creek spilling

over a ledge. And each time

your fall shocks you; the wound

reopens, and the terror

of being grounded flickers

across your whole being.

Hunger: I feel it in your fretting,

your phantom wing forgetting its lack.

Hunger: more than the first ache,

a paradigm of violence.  

Costly are your drives

that strongarm you back to earth,  

and— costlier still— the elemental singing

(the counterforce of prison)

in your bones for sky.

And I’m too close for comfort.

Sarah Giragosian (PhD, UAlbany, 2014) is the author of the poetry collection Queer Fish, a winner of the American Poetry Journal Book Prize (Dream Horse Press, 2017) and author of The Death Spiral (Black Lawrence Press, forthcoming). Her poems have recently appeared in such journals as Ecotone, The Missouri Review, Prairie Schooner, and Denver Quarterly, among others.

Barzakh Mag