Birdsongs – a poem by Matthew J. Andrews

I came back to the place,
found only a flock of doves
pecking at scraps in the street,
cooing in communion.
Was that you speaking?
I have read that bird colonies
on isolated rocky outposts
can be millions strong, a mass
of squawking eternal. 
Yet amidst the cacophony, a child
always knows the mother’s call,
can always pick it out,
can always be heard in response,
can always be fed.
This is how birds are made.
I’m trying to write a gospel
of bird noises, but I’ll be damned
to make any sense of them.
The sounds themselves are simple,
but the tones shift like fault lines,
the pitches rise and fall like tides.
It’s impossible to know whether each trill
is admonishment or admiration,
whether the barely whispered cooooo
is the tenderness of a lover’s kiss
or the quiet mourning of a broken heart.
The voice erupts, an atom 
bomb detonated in the sky, whipping
clothes in its wind, drawing blood
from ruptured eardrums.
There is nothing like it. The closest
you can get on your own
is to jam quill pens
into the sides of your head:
a flagellation of words,
an auditory stigmata,
an imitation of birdsong. 

Matthew J. Andrews is a private investigator and writer who lives in Modesto, California. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Funicular MagazineThe Inflectionist ReviewRed Rock ReviewSojournersKissing Dynamite, and Deep Wild Journal, among others. He can be contacted at

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