top of page


by Zeynep Bayirtepe

art by Angela Shang

haunting the halls is the soul of a songbird 

who feeds on words and stains

it chews them to a pulp no 

substance left just 

an aftertaste

and it stops singing and starts spitting

swallows vitriol and 


drip drip drips from my lips sounds so


it rips some god apart

breaks my neck 

cursed to look up and up and

up to a heaven ablaze

cracks my head open


look inside look

what is left behind

who trails orpheus through hell?

i would stay as dead as a doornail

sickness is heresy

i leave my skull ajar

and i feel sicker than ever

the poisoned little bird cries into the sky like a little girl

and kicks and struggles like a man

this makes for a mighty shadow, shifting and full of knots

you would think it belongs to a vulture 

who tells stories profane to history

hoards words in its nest so vulgar

until they resemble a house.

(rome had no chance, nor did the ottomans,

they loved the thrill of having

too much)

with the touch of a beak, the bird makes empires fall

leaves a trail of their crumbs as it flies away 

keeps the return in its clenched fist mind

a storied homecoming, just to find a tapestry sublime

and adamant and angry in its wholeness.

i do not look up 

not for an omen

not for a god

i look down

to search for pretty pebbles. 

pick them up,

feel the weight of a punch of earth packed

under a smooth skin

in my sweating palm there is proof

i take i take to give

under perfect guidance

tell me, nurses devils muses

with my pockets heavy with pebbles

is it a crime to pray still?

when i catch myself trying to sew shadows onto a nevergreen parade of nevergrowing bodies, 

my darling friends have to lick my papercuts open. 

they see the hearth burning crashing 

and burning. they wax and wane 

quench the thirsty fire

lend me kisses to sign goodbyes. 

i hold translucent grudges

i mean no harm

i mean what i say

goodbye, goodbye

the songbird flies to kiss the bowl of reflected light

that will bring about the demise of the taker and its sorry wings

a night sky painted with ashes once the sun abandons it.


bottom of page