"I play the fox," "The Three Fs," and "Homicidal Pigeon Fever"

I play the fox

I play the fox in jibs and gabbs
in canine squibs of puppy flabs
in scamper dungs a flounder wan
that cracks the back of pork fat dawn
I play the fox in cradle theft
in scutage tax and jawbone heft
in mangrove tux     my measly flue 
abright like sky of haint-moth blue
I play the fox like some play squalls
like lice outfield in scalp baseballs
like silver quick in molars met
to mango stone    the bite’s regret
I play the fox like I work hard
like sorry ma’am    is this your card
like kicking Davis bruised his fool
and aborted fore he birthed the cool
I play the fox with checker screams
with someone hold me in my dreams
with Verde venti Venmo schmucks
which holy sees the crucifucks
I play the fox with Mad King George
with thrice sent hells to damn the gorge
with bottle rockets crotched inside
that one-man-show you all mile-highed
I play the fox while some play snails
while some will pawn their holy grails
while others feast on early bird
which forgot the worm, but was the word



The Three Fs

No cuck of Christ has ever relied on glass doors
and thank God, 
​                        could you imagine the shatter
when Luther’s nails met the pane, and thank
less if it means 
            we can actually enjoy the body
without the blood, without the second coming’s
                        gyred guilt trip 
Eater of fires divine, of sweet Theresan ecstasy,
            where the point is not to fuck, and the point
is driven too long, too deep, that there’s little else to do
but animalize
            swallow hot coals and cling to heated brass
            that we might boil the sin
                                    out of our prickish hearts
Mr. Kellog, you say you hate sex, but what is it
that makes your flakes so crunchy?
                        Have you ever considered
            bending spoons, cashing royalty checks,
fleeing the purple-lipped skeptics
                                    who have asked us
            with inevitable inebriance
            to just fuck off
Whatever happened to fucking on?
I’m sure the human race won’t mind
            a percentage of bananas and Bonobos
Sharing is seeing, and seeing
            is nakedness, not hiding from one’s
                                    own flesh
If you're that worried why don’t you go
soak your dick in vinegar, 
            that’ll keep you from sucking it



Homicidal Pigeon Fever

We’d just got the diagnosis and: 
shudder and shelter and do what you can
buy rubber bands and ponchos—
prepare for forever, but expect a flash;
the first forty-eight hours are the wettest

We covered our windows with bedsheets,
unpawned our bicycle helmets (the ones
that just won’t sit), and we rehearsed
for the twitch-twitch shit-on-the-shoulder
shtick when the doorbell rang
Go away! We’ve got Homicidal Pigeon Fever
Don’t be a hero, which means: don’t be
a moron, which means: don’t be us

And I hoped to Birds they’d scurry
until the mailslot flapped its flange
When the shadow muted off, we dribbled
over, found a mosaic kitchen-knife letter,
We sat a while, flanking the fireplace, helmets
shored on dandruff-snowy brows 
and wondered aloud how easy, oh so easy
to make a little money with this dove-rough
collusion, these red eyes idolized by others 
It’s the telephone company again
, she said
exploding with their real-estate You think
they’d make any money were it not 
for a bunch of birds like us?
And I just 
blinked at her beak and searched for mine
Holy shit it's happening!
she said,
the words warbled throat-stuck with rubber
undercarriage, scraped like street cant
and I don’t think we were ready
for that livery of avian misfacement
Get ahold of yourself
, I coo-cooed
we might miss today when we’re molted bald.
We can only hope and fluff and turn our heads

I took the letter in pinion, eager downed
my ego and spat into the envelope.
I want you to be proud of your disease

Where there were feathers, I forgot hair,
where there were tarsi, I forgot feet.
And she never struck me as a violent person
but she did strike me.



James Cole

James Cole is a poet, author, filmmaker, and scientist based out of Charlottesville, VA. His written work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including Winged Nation, Voice Lux, Artemis Journal, and Vita Brevis’ Pain and Renewal. In 2016 he won The Gallery poetry prize and in 2017 he was a semifinalist for the VWC’s Golden Nib Award. James’ first poetry collection, Crow, come home, was released by VerbalEyze Press in 2019. In addition to his writing, James is a community organizer for the Live Poets Society, a judge for the national Poetry Out Loud competition, founder of the Charlottesville Poetry Critique Circle, and an instructor at Writerhouse.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Wednesday, July 21, 2021 - 22:03