Sipping smoky coffee in a business suit,
I spot through the kitchen window
a speck of red glistening like a star
in the grassy icy tundra of the backyard.
A male cardinal.           Mohawked, graceful, it spreads
its wings among the endless white, seeming
to dance in its conservatory of early morning,
twittering like a church choir, my curious
eyes hidden behind a mild glare of sun
on the window, and for a moment I imagine
being that bird, with its crimson wings,
its sharp eyes, its bulbous body bobbing
across sleet like a figure skater, or like a paraglider
gliding over one, two, three frosty gales of winter breeze.
.          To be honest, some mornings, I’m that bird,
while others, I’m the crunching yawn
of thick muddy snowpack under your brogans,
and I wonder what’s the point of getting out of bed
in the morning when all I want is unending sleep,
the cold arms of my blankets, sweat-sallow, wrinkled
as a smoothed-out ball of computer paper,
which reminds me of a poem I wrote years ago,
an early draft breathing rough music
into my lungs like a baby bird with deformed
beak and claws.           Unlike the bird in the backyard.
.          Bright as though whetted, it rises from the pale
ashes of the current season, singing sweet songs
to the early morning stars, tawny rays of newborn
sun toddling like wayward gales among the boughs
of a nearby elder tree, emaciated, gnarled,
like a birdcage with frail rails, with wrist-thin bars
made of ancient bark. It rests on a branch, gazing
toward the lavender sky, the horizon mellow yellow,
and soon it flutters freely away, fast as a fiery spark,
and while I finish my coffee, ready for work,
the bird hovers on the edge of sight as though
waiting for me to step outside and welcome
the next breath of dawn.


Jacob Butlett (he/his) is a gay author with an A.A. in General Studies and a B.A. in Creative Writing. In 2012 he earned a Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Gold Key for his fiction; in 2017 he won the Bauerly-Roseliep Scholarship for excellence in literary studies and creative writing; in 2018 he received a Pushcart Prize nomination for his poetry. Some of his work has been published in The MacGuffin, Panoply, Cacti Fur, Gone Lawn, Word Fountain, Lunch Ticket, Fterota Logia, Into the Void, and plain china.