[I Solemnly] Swear by Christopher Ankney


You will not see a woman transform into eagle
and shred the cheek neck forearms of a poacher.

You will not think a shriek freedom – we are free
as talons that rip skin off the body like air.

You will be hidden from merry-go-round men
who play out their homes with drinks.

With paycheck threats. With mop handles
doubling as ‘toys.’

You will not know frozen tile like a bear trap
where all you hear are the familiar canals

pulsing your own ears. You will never be tossed
like ragged clothes. Your mother will never be

a kicked-at rat, chased to the humming blue walls
pale as winter that squints eyes in fluorescence.

The trick called shelter. You will not hear whimpers
of other babies fattened

mouths, hummingbird bodies in hurricanes
no Doppler can predict. The brain must be set

like a bone. Even the mythical healing powers
of youth. There is one law in this house:

You will not use your tongue as a fist bat gun
to accelerate the body’s uselessness to another.

Christopher Ankney‘s work has appeared or soon will in journals such as Gulf Coast, Hayden’s Ferry, Hunger Mountain, Third Coast, Prairie Schooner, and Zone 3. His first manuscript, Hearsay, has been a finalist eight times. He live in Annapolis, Maryland, with his wife and son.