Marie Landau is an editor at the University of New Mexico Press and a member
of Dirt City Writers, an Albuquerque-based literary collective. Her poems have
appeared in ditch magazine and in Eunoia Review.

West Nile Virus, Winter 2003

Fat black birds coil
three, four, five limp
crows on the lawn
a green earth mapped
by plum-black ink
feathers slick like
valvoline like some
thing too dark and slip-
pery to hold in your hand;
too perfectly shimmering to discard
every spectral color shining
the matte-black beak ajar
canary tongue shrunken.

He hands me a shovel to toss
the bodies into the bin where
they'll nest among crushed reeking
beer cans and cigarette soft packs—
he loathes the crows even more
than these dead things.
I drop the first one twice
before finding the center
of its slack weight; he goes
around back to eat blackberries
straight from the vine.

The Warehouse

Unwrapped decisions
slip through the foreign note,
a declaration forming
letters flat, unsealed.

Turning to the inventory,
the end of the world
is the way it works best—
this is where it keeps its little ladder.

Outline of a Dream

I. Subject
1. I
a. I let the cat out of the bag about poetry and New York.
b. I kissed you, mostly on the neck, and decided I wanted to live there.
c. I remembered my significant other.
d. I went to pick up my mother from work. It was after five and she wasn't ready. I wondered what I was doing there.

II. Object
1. You
a. You got angry about the cat, but I couldn't keep myself from telling that you'd asked me to.
b. You circled my waist with your arms and smelled like a cologne you never wear.
c. You did not remember my significant other.
d. You wondered why I went to pick up my mother, took it as a slight, and disappeared.

III. Consequences on (In)direct Objects
1. People and Animals
a. The cat was spoken into nonexistence—this seems inhumane.
b. When we touched, electric bees swarmed around our heads.
c. My significant other said he would a feel pressure on his heart until I chose.
d. Downtown, my mother slept, while I thought about cats slinking their way into the city, erasing your poems with sandpaper tongues.

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