City birds seldom call out in song.
They speak in utilitarian chirps,
a squawking vernacular to guide
them on their morning commutes –
wire to branch, branch to dirt,
dirt to highway of cloudy skies –
the way we mumble to each other
about open seats on the bus,
our heads bobbing with the staccato
rhythm of halt and motion, mouths hungry
for crumbs scattered on the street.
Yet even then there are moments,
small moments late in the day
when the drumbeat of sledge
on steel brings to the lips a tune
our mothers used to whistle
in the kitchen as they worked,
their knuckles kneaded and buckled
but their mouths high in the clouds,
soaring on wingspreads of air,
and we softly sing their memories
to the waving branches of the trees
and listen as the birds sing back.
My Father and I Make Sausage
Everything must be cold,
he tells me, and it is,
the chill numbing the nerves
on the tips of our fingers.
Cutting the meat away from bone,
his knifework is almost surgical,
his free hand placed carefully
away from the sharper edges.
Out of the grinder, the flesh
is a frayed rope. The machine
whirs like a table saw, singing
the same shrill sounds as silence.
He feeds the casing until we have
links stretched to capacity with fat
and muscle. Don’t prick the skin,
he tells me, or it will all spill out.
Matthew J. Andrews is a private investigator and writer who lives in Modesto, California. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Orange Blossom Review, Funicular Magazine, Red Rock Review, Sojourners, Amethyst Review, Kissing Dynamite, and Deep Wild Journal, among others. He can be contacted at matthewjandrews.com.