So Many Birds to Kill and So Few Stones

Jay Hopler

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from The Rooster King

How can a man who owns so little owe so much?

It rains for a while and then it doesn’t. The phone rings. The pipes rattle. A breeze blows and the house settles. And when the cocks come, frugging and a’strut, their gaudy plumage plashing brash against a backdrop of blocked-up cars and vacant lots and bank-owned cottages, their doors knocked heavy-off-the-hinge, one cannot help but flattened be by the persistence of the beautiful thing even in the face of that which will ultimately consume it.

How a man who owns so little can owe so much—

It’s cold. Overcast. Dreary. The day’s weak light is trapped between the low clouds and the ground. It’s falling from the bleak sky down, crashing into yellowed grass, broken glass, trash, the tin roofs of the shotgun shacks, then drifting, crippled, upward, stunned, to the low-slung dark eruptions of the clouds. Even in this underglow, how their splendid feathers flare! Iridescent. Ember-flecked—. As if by

Bloody starlight lit, or fire. Oily as joy.

Oily as joy? I don’t see it, but say it so

and smiling up from every slick will be that face angelic that we’ll find the day we quit this place and leave behind what seasick, heavy dread attends our waking. And our rest—.

If you can call it rest.

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