Back to Issue Twenty-Five.

and then the birds came (ars poetica)

Finalist for the 2018 Gregory Djanikian Scholars Program


thank you birds for coming / are your wings tired / would you like a
tiny glass of water / would you like a small seafood meal / please shake
your feathers everywhere / my birds thank you for safe passage /
my birds they do fly in formation / I wish my birds would come take
the government away / I wish the birds would fly the refugees
to sanctuary cities / my bird book is white and I am a woman of color /
birds feather my poems / cages and hunters are the worst sort
of plot twist / out of love I wrapped my wings around me / when I
imagine wings I am learning to forget white angels / children
are like birds / they can go anywhere in their minds / my birds helped
me out of ice / flew me back to the ocean / told me about
the good love the bad love and the young confused love where no one
is to blame / I think my cats do care about my birds / where will
my birds wander / I must let the birds go / they will find good homes
forever homes and not forever homes / but I want to know where
does the love go / maybe some birds will get dirty / maybe some birds
will see the snow / I sign off my birds for flight for resistance for joy /
and say let them be an echo for anyone who needs an exit



pride month


Finalist for the 2018 Gregory Djanikian Scholars Program
Previously appeared in Kenyon Review Online

with a line by Jacques Rancourt

It is June & I read about having grace to forgive those

who would condemn us. It is June & a man reads a poem

where the father becomes a dying stag & the son says there is

something I need to tell you. It was June when I was in bed

past 1am gathering news about the Orlando nightclub

shooting. I fell asleep knowing I would wake to walk

against grief in waves. It is June & I am happy that, at

some point, Tegan & Sara will show up in San Francisco

or Oakland. It is June & I have never prayed to any god.

It was June in the 2000s when my ex-partner ran

the New York City pier dance. We slid through a sea

of men with shaved chests. The songs hardly had words

& the bass shuddered into our bodies. Fireworks

orgasmed glitter over the Hudson and New York

roared back. In the VIP section, I stood in a sundress

surrounded by so many barely dressed people double-

kissing my face & saying happy Pride & where is your wife


Shelley Wong is the author of Rare Birds (Diode Editions). Her poems have appeared in Crazyhorse, Sixth Finch, Southern Humanities Review, Verse Daily, Vinyl, The Volta, and elsewhere. A Kundiman Fellow and a recipient of a Pushcart Prize and a MacDowell Colony fellowship, she lives in California.

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