Author: Brett Finlayson

Brett Finlayson has an M.F.A. from Syracuse University. He currently lives in Connecticut, where he works as an ironworker. Recent work has appeared in New Delta Review and Third Coast.

La Isla de los Alcatraces

La Isla de los Alcatraces

“Walls!” they yelled. Dark ships lined the horizon like periods. “Walls!” they yelled and forced pieces of the island into the bay. (This work made new tide pools.) They filled the cavity with soil to soften the shock of brass shells. They planted flowering shrubs the colors of what they could not imagine and believed this filled the void.

They whispered the names of the dead. The sounds that left their tongues were barren depths. They hunted the Black-crowned Night-Herons. They hunted the Snowy Egrets. The plumes they offered to their women for hats and shoes. Their women pressed their bodies to walls and taller hands. Their savage nudity was not beautiful. They danced the dance of a thousand bullets.

As inmates slept, winds butchered the swoon of booze. In their dreams they smelled the sea, but also the perfumes of virgins. Their weeping was silent and filled the spaces between waves.

They made museums of shadows they could not shake, believing they faced the sun. Seabirds stretched over warm rocks. Seabirds folded their wings. Seabirds dissected the fires of stars. Seabirds called out to the dead, and the dead were seabirds, because the dead were whatever they dreamed.

A Black-crowned Night-Heron left its nest of red flowers and entered the tide pools to feed the mouths of its young.

Oh, brutal world! What cages you make for your own song!