Volume 25, Number 1

Animatronic Song

And with the birds of Oz still chirping
I wondered if I too was animatronic.
Where did I learn all other galaxies
were moving away from us altogether?

As a soldier I mapped arteries and drafted
aerodynamics while whistling
what I thought the bombs would sound like.
Yoked to paychecks and machine
guns, I looked the part: the braggart, the lecher.
Script reader, just following father’s
cues and hiding from the bomber’s shadow.

Camouflaged in maple trees,
I ran my hands behind your knees
while you ran the scales of songwhisper.
This was before the disappearance
of phone booths, pies cooling on windowsills.
Before they drove the first songbirds away.

A microchip could program my face
to grow crow’s feet. They have hydraulics
built to pump a man’s heart to ruddy collapse.
I’ve been to hell looking for spare parts
pulled from dogs, apes, and hogs.
If they come looking, tell them
I’m in the bush with the birds.

—Jason Braun