several kinds of alarm 

in the before times there were no sirens,
only birds trained by a monk 
in the courtyard where weeds grew
like children. he would bend down
& whisper horrors in their ears
to make them scream. a separate 
atrocity for each creature to spit
back out in sound. in the city,
we knew the sirens as women. great bodies
scrambling through the streets.
what does it sound like to search for
a child in the wild tall grass
& come up empty? 
we were both rooted for & ultimately 
unfound. slung our shoes over
a telephone wire. someone is calling home.
someone is calling you "darling."
sirens with the stoplight 
in the back of their throats.
i would count them as they passed.
cover my face. no. i'm not who
you're looking for. a tape recorder
in the living room taking inventory.
the loudest siren always rushed
from left to right. then, the ambient one
whose direction even she was unsure of.
as a child in the play yard i said prayers
for sirens. one hail mary. let all bodies
be whole. jars for screaming.
the birds in the courtyard. the monk
with a leather notebook for inventing 
terrors to give the birds. weeping,
he wants to tell the birds beautiful things only.
imagines saying, "i am in love
with another man." but instead swallows
that urgency. the birds are neccesary tools.
who else will be the warning if not them?
a bird landed on my windowsill
& shouted orange & red. i covered my ears.
i am skilled at ignoring emergency. i don't
even have a window or a windowsill.
the monk is walking out & nodding
at dandelions. the birds are gathering.

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