I lied about having houseplants
in a conversation about having
children. I also lied about birds:
Every loose feather you ever see
comes from a different sick bird.
A bird with a different sickness.
The feather’s a symbol for each’s
uniqueness. But they mostly fall
from a single bird; wind-washed into
public corners like dander behind doors.
In a brutalist cube of walls and stairs
a man with a fresh black eye asks me,
Do you know the name of this street?
I shake my head, I don’t. You better
learn the name of this street, he
threatens, as he staggers away.
The nearby retromarket in decline
sells cameras, the ones they ceased
producing film for just now. The tram’s
right there, so there’s foot traffic, but it’s
also very cold. The ice cream parlor
closed. Your ransomware reminds me
every idea has a location and address.
It reminds me we are so special
because we each have something
inside that no one else can see,
a many-feathered thing to slowly
destroy that no one will know is gone.
PATRICK WILLIAMS is a poet and academic librarian living in Central New York. He is the author of the chapbook Hygiene in Reading (Publishing Genius) and the editor of Really System, a journal of poetry and extensible poetics.