Pretending / Bog-Men / The Bird-Man


Told to pretend to be a hyena
at a party, you recline & appear
to sleep. I am myself pretending
to be angry. I chew the carpet.

Now we are pretending to be
each other. We try to imagine
what it’s like. We are already
there. You pretend to be

concerned. You do it for so long
you get a little squiggly-eyed.
I am pretending to be myself or
at least who I think I am. And you

are still pretending to be a hyena.
Huddling on branches you hoot
& I pull up my knees and shoulders.
The moon sees only owls. Are you

pretending to be the person who
I thought you were pretending to
be? Do you believe that I believe
what I say I am only pretending

to believe in? We are pretending
to know each other. I am told
to pretend to be a hawk. I stand
on one leg and squint. And you

are still pretending to be a hyena.
I am told to pretend to bite you
and I really bite you. I pretend
that I am sorry. Now I am pretending

to be a tree. And you are still
pretending to be a hyena. Now
we are pretending not to be
pretending. And you are still

a hyena.



Paper might be made from them—
illuminated as the hidden book
plated with gold held from fire
and thief at Kells—look, they

have turned to stone. Look,
they have lost each other in
the ground. As skin and bone
fused. As trembling wishing

hands coupled finger-to-
finger. As only five hours spent
man and wife. On the cold
and lonely bed lain before

the firing-squad. A little cross
placed there. Holding in desire
until the whole body shakes—
until the little egg-shell worn

as skin crumbles. Swallowed
by peat and made mummy. All
sucked from the body & only
the outside left. Only skin.


The Bird-Man

and he has been seen above the roof-tops
changing to a bird. And this, too, is said

to have been foretold. He cannot eat anything
but worms and the crusted molting dirt. And

others cannot understand his squawks. Love-
bird, loverless, he builds his nest alone. If

the knife had been sharper—no, it was dull.
And he has been known to leap tall buildings

and drift off into clouds. Then, too, he was known
to meet the moth-man under the paling moon.

His bird-home built of concrete. And his arms,
too, are made of wood and duct-tape. He

is the angel of the supermarket. But others
cannot understand when he says he flies. And

this, too, has been his fate. If the building
had been taller—no, he would have flown.

And he has been known to migrate on days
when the mood strikes him. He’ll stamp the ground

and cluck out bird sonatas. Others cannot hear
the voices answering him. Now, too, he

is known to be a priestly presence. Look,
he is crossing the street at an odd angle. Watch

as he hangs for a moment in the air.


-Teague Morris, class of 2017