robyn schiff



with lines adapted from “The Song of Songs,” Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart,” Charles Darwin’s The Voyage of the Beagle


Red eyes on a red-feathered head seem not to be watching

or seem to be watching and are not,

self-camouflaged, unreliably witnessing the

war cries of the Hoop-hoop rippling visibly up the body

adrenaline firing cut-throat against the rope

of the larynx unbalanced in fits, a scream

that calls the fire-fly off the fire-fly, you do not hear it, Devil Finch,

fit to survive obliviously

appetiteless, instinct has left you listless

on an electric wire in which

500,000 megahertz course toward

the door-knob, glibly static.


Lack says you want this.

Hearing of a red without flux, suspiciously red red at which light turns and goes

back to its source                              A red field on a map of which the legend says:

red               Draw me after you, let us make haste. Red has brought me into its

chamber               My mind goes red at the thought of you, love              You woke

out of dream breathless and flushed, as if pursued for hours            The quill of

the red Devil Finch: 42% red, 8% red, 50% red                Hearing of it she wanted it

and as she was Queen, sent a fleet

(Dear Garden Sirs,

Does it not reflect poorly upon the Gardener that the Garden is without?


Dear Tapestry-Master,

Where does the Devil Finch nest in your design?


Dearly Appointed Chef,

I am dissatisfied.)

In rooms dark enough to rouse the listening-self

to its feet, the Devil Finch, just out of ear-reach, can be heard by those who hear-

ing “all things in the heaven” hear that nothing has been said there              Nor do

leaves rustle when nothing moves them               Nor has the Devil-Finch disturbed

anyone excepting how a phone not ringing reveals loneliness is disturbing


A decoy has too much

that was formed by hands

desiring to hold one


See the disinterest with which Devil Finch approaches Devil Finch

or how the hired captor abandons quest when the Devil Finch perches restfully on his issued gun;


“I never really wanted one,” he wrote his lover

“Nor am I coming home.”


Omenless in visions,

she never dreamed of one.


There were two men

dead in the morning.

It had nothing to do

with the Devil Finch



nor do I believe from what I saw in Patagonia

that when an animal is killed


in the jungle

the Devil Finch

soon gains


of it.