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Bird Skin Coat (Brittingham Prize in Poetry) by Angela Sorby

By Angela Sorby

Chicken epidermis Coat is brimming with startling moments of good looks came upon inside of a rusty and decayed panorama. With wild lyrical pictures of ascent and descent—doves and dives, sparrows and slugs, attics and cellars—this assortment displays Sorby’s willing eye for mixing photographs. As they trip among the higher Midwest and the Pacific Northwest, those poems discover how the novel instability of the realm can also be the resource of its energy.  Honorable point out, Posner Book-Length Poetry Award, Council for Wisconsin Writers  Winner, top ebook of Poetry, Midwest publication Awards Winner, Lorine Niedecker Poetry Award, Council for Wisconsin Writers

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They leave and we picture sewn-up white leather, a head with no face, an orb aloft, a sun. Whack. Home run. The ball sails out of the park. It falls in tall grass. It nests though it’s no swan. Later, the drunk men tumble to bed at a Holiday Inn. Too beat for CNN, they snore, then breathe their snores back in. To know all: in Paradise Lost, that was Satan’s first sin. But Iowa’s not Eden— in dreams we women watch the stadium’s roof roll up. Is it motorized? Do we care? Our pillows smell of aloe, like our hair.

The university’s spires flared, lit by lights meant to scare black teenagers. Its mock-Oxford turrets acted older than they were. If I walked all the way to the quad, my key-card would admit me. So instead I looped around 52nd to Woolworth’s, where the cashiers, Ruth and Rotunda, let half-price parakeets fly free among the shoppers. Woolworth’s was the opposite of history, its liquids and plastics on the verge of being swept into some stranger’s future suitcase, shower, tragedy—who could say? Blavatsky was right: truth mattered less 47 and less every day, and the discount parakeets, green with scabby claws, moved downward to darkness behind racks of inexplicably gigantic white bras.

What can I do but coax him over the embers? And if he cries (he will) I’ll say walk faster. 35 INSOMNIA I’m not surprised to find myself awake. I want to dial dead people long distance: Tante Kitty, Sheila Bender, David Lee. My husband is breathing evenly, his skin a sleeping bag zipped around his chin. In the daytime, too, he moves with an ease that is not contagious. Be happy, he says, as if giving directions for plain paper recycling. I hear Dick Van Dyke on the downstairs neighbor’s TV, but no one’s awake down there.

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