The Birds

Linfei Yang

"Still awake," she says
As a bag of chips lay
Seppuku on my desk. 
The clock has just ticked 12PM.
Outside my window, 
Stars are climbing up the sky
Like dandruff climbing up my hair. 
I push myself up from my antique
Swivel chair
To face her: "no mom, not yet."

Trying to support myself I lean
On the doorframe, 
The hinge
Leaves an angry mark on my forearm. 
Take the piss.
In the mirror I inspect and get
Distracted. Time to tease
The healing wounds and
See if there's anything you missed
Under this scab. 
Nothing? 
Oh well. Back to work it is.

"Still awake?" she says. 
Grabbing air in my empty chip bag
I accidentally bite myself
On the finger as I turn around. 
Nearly choking on this sentence
Is what I get
For not drinking water since 8pm.
My left leg throbs. 
I fantasize about deep vein thrombosis. 
"No mom, anytime now, anytime
Now."


I feel a rush of blood to my head— 
Hear the sound
Of a faucet slowly turning in my nose,
Dying the crumbs in between the cracks
Of my keyboard red. 
As I type
My book review of The Scarlet Letter 
I'll give you a hint:
It's not a very good book. 
I would know. 
I haven't read it. 
Too late for that I guess.

"Still awake?!" she says
A little more insistent this time. 
I still haven't moved from my position. 
Chasing Muscae volitantes in my vision as
She yells: It's three
AM!
I am standing I am standing even
My bones let out one deep breath
With every crack. Before you know it
I am lying again: "I am going to
Sleep. Mom. I am done. 
Goodnight."

My Chinese mother is like a warbler.
She doesn't know her son
Goes cuckoo after the clock strikes one.
Oh what a funny joke
I am laughing to myself, 
A voodoo doll
Each time Chang'e stabs
Pins and needles into my limbs
I see visions that burn behind my eyelids
Near topples me over
And hear voices
That sound like a chorus of magpies:

Still awake? they say.
Still awake? they say. 
It is known
That the early riser gets the worms,
But the late sleeper gets the butterflies. 
How can I rest
Before I hear the birds again?
So I can know
That what I've done to myself is right;
That I've been granted a tomorrow.
Where I can say 操 你 大 爷 
To the sunrise
And be safe inside the day.


Linfei Yang is a sophomore at Brandeis University. He is a Chinese international student who has been in Jerusalem for the past six years. He is very very very very tired.