This Will Be the One about the Birds in the Man
J.A. Tyler

The man takes out his toothbrush. The man places toothpaste on his toothbrush. The man brushes his teeth. The man goes up down, left right. The man swishes tap water. The man rinses. The man spits out.

Inside the man is a nest. Inside the nest are baby birds. Inside the nest is a mother. Inside the mother are worms. Inside the baby birds is nothing. The mother bird spits. The mother bird coughs. The mother bird chokes up worms. The baby birds fight over the worms. The worms dangle. The mother bird dishes out worms. The mother bird creaks with bird noise. The baby birds swallow. The baby birds screech. The baby birds are not filled up.

Yesterday the man ate an egg. Sunnyside up. Yesterday the man trimmed his beard. The day before yesterday the man's beard was full of birds. The day before yesterday there was a flock of seagulls housed there. The day before yesterday there was the chance that the man, the birds in his beard startled to movement, each altogether, that the man would take to the sky as a human-shaped balloon, frantically swimming in air. Yesterday the man read the newspaper. Yesterday the newspaper warned of falling stocks.

The man coughs. The air cold. Lungs purge. Mother bird tucks her head to the baby birds, each one a neck. Until the mother bird pecks from behind the man's teeth and he yawns, opening a tunnel, and she is gone to seek more worms in the parks between the sidewalks where men dive down against the world.

J.A. Tyler's most recent novel is Inconceivable Wilson. He is the founding editor of Mud Luscious Press.

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Detail of illustration on main page courtesy of Teal Wilson.

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