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"Ode to Climate Disruption" by Candice Kelsey

—you wrote about the bluebird. They snapped its neck. Then you wrote about the red-bellied woodpecker. But they plucked its feathers. So you wrote about the Carolina wren. And they clipped its wings. You tried to write about mourning doves. They shot them out of the sky. You stopped writing because it was someone’s birthday. Then you were on vacation. A graduation. Binging that new show on Hulu. Soon you remembered that you enjoy writing about birds. You wanted to open your laptop but found they had cut off your hands. You tried to tell them about the great blue heron, but they had sliced out your tongue. You spent the remaining days watching a tufted titmouse, listening to the Eastern towhee. They threw acid in your eyes and beat you upside the head until your eardrums burst. You strained to recall Keats’ nightingale, Clifton’s crows, Oliver’s geese but found only oil spills, flooding, and wildfires. Now you try to sleep, to dream of feathers, song, and flight while they stand at the end of your bed and scream, slapping the soles of your feet. Bluebirds perch outside your window and watch. You want to write how they lament your loss of habitat, sing of your fate, but all the words have flown north —

CANDICE M. KELSEY [she/her] is a poet, educator, activist, and essayist from Ohio and living bicoastally in L.A. and Georgia. Her work appears in Passengers Journal, Variant Literature, and The Laurel Review among others. A finalist for a Best Microfiction 2023, she is the author of six books. Candice also serves as a poetry reader for The Los Angeles Review. Find her @candice-kelsey-7 @candicekelsey1 and

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