“How to Become a Dyke, Step Three, Birds,” by Nickole Brown
Jul01

“How to Become a Dyke, Step Three, Birds,” by Nickole Brown

A book of birds. A story in birds. Each breath a bird, each dream slipped from your ear to your pillow out the window a song: cardinals laughing at you—birdie birdie birdie— on a lonely Valentines, then robins swarming the last bits of red another February day, so many of them on the holly tree the branches tick with their picking and you stop the car. But you are so cold, you have to get to the store, and in the florescent buzz of the freezer aisle, you swear you hear a flock of larks is called an exaltation, but think no, that’s too pretty, that can’t be right. Buy your frozen pizza and peas and try to remember warmer days: the surf shop with the parrot, big and green with a beak full of fingers, your hair a dread of salt and seaweed so you would run home to your grandmother’s to wash the sand from your scalp. In the shower, on the sill of the window made to crank tightly closed to hurricanes, that porcelain bluebird— all those years, she swore she’d die and come back red-breasted, blue-winged, and singing, but when the time came, it was only morphine talking: white beasts stalking the hospital room, with wings long as a Cadillac and tail feathers flowing like new curtains, she said, and faces, they’ve got faces bright and sharp as a fox. There is nothing you can do. The reincarnation you used to believe in is a drag queen named Phoenix on Saturday nights at the bar where a girl leans in to you with both thumbs cowboy hooked to the pockets of her jeans, nothing more. When she asks for your number, you make for the door. There is nothing you can do and so you travel to Brooklyn where birds sing louder, competing against sirens and cabs and ice cream trucks. Try to find a woman there who makes you forget the woman before who took you to a red barn to see a pony, the barn swallows knifing the air between rafters. You will leave her, you always leave, your heart a young hummingbird who has learned that hummingbirds do not land when they suckle the flower—only fledglings claw the red plastic feeder. Say, I just can’t, say it, then leave, say it, then make your way to the headstone of your grandmother. Her ashes are not there, but her name is, and because you still believe in some words, it is enough. You are there to seek permission. Cool your face against the granite and ask is what I have become okay? After,...

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Nickole Brown Awarded Fall 2010 Orlando Poetry Prize
Oct01

Nickole Brown Awarded Fall 2010 Orlando Poetry Prize

NICKOLE BROWN’S books include her debut, Sister, a novel-in-poems, and the anthology, Air Fare, which she co-edited with Judith Taylor. She graduated from The Vermont College of Fine Arts and was the editorial assistant for the late Hunter S. Thompson. She has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Kentucky Foundation for Women, and the Kentucky Arts Council. She worked at the independent, literary press, Sarabande Books, for ten years. Currently, she is the Editor for the Marie Alexander Series in Prose Poetry and works as the National Publicity Consultant for Arktoi Books. She lives in Louisville, KY, where she is Lecturer at the University of Louisville and Bellarmine University and teaches at the low-residency MFA Program in Creative Writing at Murray State.   Her winning poem, “How to Become a Dyke, Step Three, Birds” was first published in Issue No. 9 of the Los Angeles...

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