Birds

by Fred Gillen Jr

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1.
after the bombing was over the robins returned they flitted and floated around in the rubble just looking for the bravest worms looking for the bravest worms that cafe over there is the place where we sat the night when we fell in love now it’s all gone and all that is there is whatever we choose to remember after the flood we stood surveying the ruins chairs and pianos, cars and appliances littered the dunes littered the dunes we used to walk in the surf hand in hand our hair intertwined in the afternoon breeze for hours we’d talk or sing as we walked or just listen to the sound of the sea after the plague was cured we all met in the square we lit a bonfire and danced all together and no one was angry or scared no one was angry or scared at the end of the night, after we’d cried and it was just you and me I took off my mask and we sat and we laughed as long as you’re here I’m free
2.
Birds 03:03
The birds all scatter from the tear gas in the air no more swallows no more pigeons anywhere choppers descend giant buzzards to disperse the crowds if there were birds you wouldn’t hear them the choppers are so loud a few seconds of quiet after it’s over and the birds return marching boots and mean, white faces like some demented parade a lone seagull perched on a beam the only avian witness to the scene there is no poetry in the truncheon but birds are poetic even when they’re gone no one to sing either victory or funeral song a few seconds of quiet after it’s over and the birds return they set a curfew at 8 the people the people go home but put your head out the window and you’ll hear that we’re not alone a few seconds of quiet after it’s over and the birds return
3.
for weeks and weeks we woke to only the sound of bird song no rush of traffic, no motorcycles no trucks rumbling in the dawn the quiet was restful we became accustomed to hearing the birds they greeted us each day quiet yet persistent, more elegant than any words as Spring turned to Summer and the State opened up the highway roared to life and the noise is frightening what used to be normal now sounds like a war we wake at rush hour feeling like someone poured cold water on our once peaceful bed shocked into consciousness I will miss the quiet bird song of lock-down mornings the cleaner air the peaceful stir of the wind in the maples as we all contemplated life in the space of unstructured hours instead of marching lock-step toward death amidst the din of clocks and traffic
4.
he has to wait until the rabbit is good and dead watching and hoping that after the eagles eat there’s something left searching the sides of the road for some scrap they left giant hooded fiends faces you won’t forget the vultures are circling waiting to descend the blue jays scrap and scream but they’re pretty to see the robins peck and sing and worms hide from the death they bring searching the fields and streams for some fish or bone to pick scary monstrous fiends waiting to turn a trick the vultures are circling waiting to descend as the turkey awkwardly struts conspicuous head-bobbling, feathers stirring up dust clouds a cover for watching hordes with no desire to hunt or explore just waiting for death to leave it’s trace enough to get at least a taste the vultures are circling waiting to descend he has to wait until the rabbit is good and dead watching and hoping that after the eagle’s eat there’s something left
5.
When the ravens came we were afraid big, black faces looming in our peaceful trees mornings we could hear them louder than mocking birds they flew high, and darkened the sky neighborhood cats laid low biding their time rain did not phase them they filled the silence their robin cousins left before a storm stark, raving, death-metal songs preceding thunder they flew high, and darkened the sky neighborhood cats laid low biding their time when the ravens came we were afraid dark, dramatic faces passing in the breeze soon it became as if they’d always been they flew high, and darkened the sky neighborhood cats laid low biding their time one day a raven came and feeling his power he flew low, too close to the ground neighborhood cats jumped out
6.
7.
before the war when the elms were still here on shady streets and quiet nights before chivalry disappeared people sat on their porches and greeted passers-by before the bomb came and made us afraid of even the sky the bluebird flew away he used to come to the feeder every day we’ll miss his song outside our window since the bluebird flew away the golden age of the automobile when gasoline was cheap there was freedom behind the wheel worn pedals beneath your feet but fate came and things changed and the table got an empty seat gasoline got scarce and a life became too cheap the bluebird flew away he used to come to the feeder every day we’ll miss his song outside our window since the bluebird flew away the trees of our youth went away I miss the way the chestnuts swayed the shade of the elms and the hemlocks scent the towering tulips guarding our steps the birds that sang and filled the silence I’ll never forget their songs the bluebird flew away he used to come to the feeder every day we’ll miss his song outside our window since the bluebird flew away

about

One of my favorite albums of all time is Pink Floyd's "Animals." All of the songs on Animals are social commentary with domesticated animals as metaphors. I kind of did the same thing here with bird metaphors. This is e.p. # 3 during the Covid Pandemic, so I played all the instruments and did everything myself.

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released June 12, 2020

All songs written, produced, and performed by Fred Gillen Jr ©2020 Fuel For the Revolution (BMI)

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Fred Gillen Jr Peekskill, New York

NYFA grant recipient Fred Gillen Jr has released 9 full-length albums, and 5 ep’s, has toured all over the U.S. and Europe solo, and Nepal and India with Greenheart. His songs have been on ABC's "All My Children," NPR's "Car Talk," CMJ, and his version of Woody Guthrie's "I Ain't Got No Home" was featured on "Pete Remembers Woody," a collection of Pete Seeger's spoken stories about Woody Guthrie. ... more

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