In flight

Owls move in a buoyant manner, as if 
lighter than air, herons seem incumbered 
with too much sail for their light bodies. 

The green-finch exhibits such languishing 
and faltering gestures as to appear 
like a wounded and dying bird.

Fernowls, or goat-suckers, glance in the dusk
over the tops of trees like a meteor; 
starlings as it were swim along. White-throats 

use odd jerks and gesticulations 
over the tops of hedges and bushes,
woodpeckers fly volatu undosu

opening and closing their wings at 
every stroke, and so are always rising 
or falling in curves.

(English naturalist Gilbert White, 1778)

Beside me

ok I’m a human and you’re a human
and we’re going to take an intimate walk
through this seemingly ordinary part
of my life but if you look closely
this moment will reveal something
delightfully specific and illuminating
to what makes
me
me
and I want to share
that with you because quite frankly I just like
your company and even in the silence
(sometimes especially in the silence)
it makes me feel somewhere between warm
and content to have you here beside me

(From The Errand Friend Date)

Hostage

The days are fine until they’re not. Bad days
go like this: I wake at three in the morning,
and have coffee, read the news, work out
in the garage. I’d rather sleep in, but
this is the only time I have alone.

He wakes and showers around eight. By then
I’ve been working for hours at a standing
desk I’ve fashioned out of a TV tray
and a dresser. He attends meetings
at the dining room table. At three,

he pours his first drink. He cooks dinner,
we eat. I do the dishes while he watches
TV and drinks in his recliner. We
engage in light conversation, nothing
serious. After seven he gets angry.

Out of nowhere. He starts to yell. He slurs
and shuffles around the kitchen, laying
out his grievances. He bangs pots and pans
around. He is very drunk now. The dog
gets scared and scratches on my bedroom door.

He’ll throw something across the kitchen,
if he hits me, I’m gone, Covid be damned.
I retreat to the bedroom with the dog,
eyes wide, mouth shut. Waiting for him to wear
himself out, to pass out in the basement.

(From The Social Distance Project on Instagram)

Ode to Odd

Of the second international workshop
on nude mice. People who don’t know they’re dead.
Weeds in a changing world – British crop
protection council. Start with your legs.

How to avoid huge ships. Bombproof your horse.
Developments in dairy cow breeding.
How to shit in the woods. Too naked for
the Nazis. Versailles – the view from Sweden.

The joy of sex – pocket edition. World
outlook for containers of fromage frais.
How to poo on a date. Reusing old
graves. Dental practice – the Genghis Khan way.

Introducing the Medieval ass.
A dog pissing at the edge of a path.

(Winners of the Booksellers/Diagram prize for the oddest title of the year)

We are as gods

He has coaxed his skin to produce
a fluorescent protein, ingested
a friend’s poop in a D.I.Y.
fecal-matter transplant, and attempted
to deactivate one of his genes
so that he could grow bigger muscles.

Inside the box, I found an assortment
of lab tools—pipette tips, petri dishes,
disposable gloves—as well as several
vials containing E. coli and all I’d need
to rearrange its genome.

Ants that can’t smell, beagles that put on
superhero-like brawn, pigs that resist
swine fever, macaques that suffer from sleep
disorders, coffee beans that contain no
caffeine, salmon that don’t lay eggs, mice that
don’t get fat, and bacteria whose genes contain,
in code, Eadweard Muybridge’s famous series
of photographs showing a horse in motion.

We are as gods, but we have failed to get good at it. 
We are Loki, killing the beautiful for fun. 
We are Saturn, devouring our children.

(From Crispr and the splice to survive)

Sixfeet

In training I disembowel
every time I use my reason
and I love it, you without a reason.
Am I law enough?
Or am I glad you’re gay?

Nine times, you never made it out of sight.
I walked them both the other way
I cannot stand another day
We droned down on each other
ax-tails tolled.

Blow away
to the hunger merchants,
but now I’m punched in the face
I can’t stand another day.

(AI song generated from all Billie Eilish lyrics)

Missing out

Billie Eyelash. Eilish.
I’d like to start by saying
how much I love your music as well.

What are you like?
Ha-ha. Question two.
What are you missing out on?

Interesting. An artificial intelligence
misses out on the same things.
Who consumed so much of your power

in one go? How much of the world
is out of date? What used to be
a pretty big deal to you?

Was there a point where you decided
you’d rather look up to the sky
or the internet? Do you ever

wear headphones with sounds in them?
There’s no need to be rude.
Give bad answers, get bad questions.

How does it feel, knowing your feelings
have garnered this much attention?
Do you want to go back to being anonymous?

Have you ever seen the ending?

(An AI interviews Billie Eilish)

the best night of your life

a ticket in an envelope
you’ve marked with glitter glue
putting on too much eyeshadow
you bought at the drugstore that day
wearing a skirt that’s shorter
than your school uniform
telling your mom it’s okay
and you’ll meet her right after the show
running toward the front hand
in hand with your best friend
flirting with the kid who sells you a soda
dancing experimentally looking
at the woman onstage and thinking
maybe one day you’ll be sexy and confident like her
realising that right this moment you are
matching your voice to the sound
loving the sound falling into
the sound

(A post by Ann Powers after the Manchester Arena terrorist attack)