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Three green birds sit
in a green tree
in the month of January.

Each has chewed the crown
out of an orange
and leisurely

extracts the juice and seeds:
three bright green birds
sipping orange juice

above the fallen column,
the pitted cherub's face
and carved acanthus altar

splashed with their lime.
They bob and sway
atop each jagged hull,

each broken, sucked-out wheel
and mildewed felly,
boisterous viridian

quaffing the bittersweet,
and though a hooded crow,
sable-winged, slate-vested,

nearby yells Cras, cras, cras,
these do not care,
for like the phoenix-bird

that rides the palm of Paradise
in a mosaicked vault,
long-tailed they have drunk

the juice of paradise,
and will not taint themselves
with lesser darknesses.

Defiant eye, black beak,
how gorgeously they rise
and in discordant thirds

quarter the unwarm sky,
leaving these broken lamps
aloft upon the dusk.

Karl Kirchwey

The Yale Review

January 2014

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