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The reason we killed
the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker is because
it was such a decorative bird to collect, expensive
bill. One of our residents upon seeing it
exclaimed Lord God Bird!
The name stuck
not the species. I don’t know
how to live. Lord God.
I don’t know. I don’t touch myself much
anymore. In the shower instead of touching myself
I think of how many hundreds of thousands
of years it took for the giraffe to lengthen
its head to see so far, to reach the branch,
and how long it took the first starfish to grow
a lost arm back, I’m thinking about
Months and days to the year and the years
of sickness, mine and yours, hide and seek
when I cup my hands around the damp
mask of my face, soap tearing
into my eyes. I don’t know what to think,
there is nothing to think when trying to wash
out my eyes. Get clean. I find myself repeating
shampoo in my hair, runs down.
The act of the beetle that rolls dung
is not a complicated act. The name for the beetle
that rolls dung is not a complicated name.
This poem was one of the winners of the 2012 “Discovery” Poetry Contest.
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Robin D. G. Kelley on the midterm elections.