Alyssa Cypher

                    for Sass Jr., Long Boi, and Screm

Some say there never were birds
in Lawrenceville,
but I saw them, named them
as they nested in awning crevices,
between forsythia branches,
in my ancient pine tree,
sliced off at the top
by telephone wire.

39th and Mintwood,
my bird sanctuary
Construction tarps twirl in wind,
symphonies of split wood and tumbling nails.
Lead dust particles shimmer in sunlight,
pirouette into churchyards
and children's lungs.

My bird sanctuary
adjacent rubble unsecured.
As roof tiles cascade, create rusty nail perches.
As glass shards clink, crackle concrete bird baths.
As fences inhale, expand openings,
cats prey,
enticed by gentrified jungle gym planks,
nearby baby mourning doves on display.

I'll find a bird in my yard    exploded.
Feathers scattered
in a pine needle grave.
I study the entrails.
Red stains in snow.
An incomplete set of bones.

Alyssa Cypher (they/them) is a Pittsburgh-based community organizer and writer. They spend their time organizing radical mental health mutual aid spaces, dancing alone in their office, and writing Mad poetry.

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