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C.N.P Poetry 

  • Writer's pictureCathexis Northwest Press

Dead Birds of New Zealand; Dead Birds in the Shape of a Cleft Note; Spizella Arborea

By: Christian Czaniecki

Dead Birds of New Zealand 

Take a moment to consider the rose bush

as a colonial construct   Adolescence 

as a function of western excess   Gender

There are more bone(s) in your

hand than there are rose(s)

I made that up there are 22 

bones in your hand & infinite


Wellington harbor was shaped

by a taniwha or a volcano

depending then the British

Every one agrees with that

I was shaped by sex    privilege 

& probably heroin


Dead Birds in the Shape of a Cleft Note

I should have just lied

the shape of the moon

does that to us all the time

There was no more bird

sound & the sky was so 

lonely it died from it

Dead starlings like grey 

and brown stones formed 

a cleft note of bird corpses

in a field so green it moved

in waves 

I pulled my coat tighter 

around my feathers I’ve never

wanted to be anything enough 

to be the last of them

Spizella Arborea

America hasn’t killed all

of its birds yet but it will

A rejection of science has

lead to the failure of thermo-

dynamics in practice & 

sparrows have been falling

at my feet like sputtering mud

stained engines. Charcoal

trying to burn under

water.  I’ve been collecting

them in my bag & carrying 

them around like chirping 

ghosts feeding them bits

of my hands & my heart.

Whispering forbidden bird

songs to them. All the music

is owned & the sparrows can’t

afford to buy back their own

voices from iTunes. I’m 

going to take them west

to the desert painted in

the colors of weathered

skin golden a tooth

& scarred by the wind &

persistence of living.

I take the birds one by 

one from the bag & press

them against a mesa until

they turn into petroglyphs

so they can disappear the

way they were meant to

worn away by the wind

or boredom.


Christian is a poet, a teacher, and a mixed media and performance artist. When he is not drinking coffee and teaching kids to reject hegemonic power structures he is probably cuddling his cat.

"Dead Birds of New Zealand:

This poem was largely a reflection on my work in New Zealand studying how the art and culture of the indigenous people, the Maori, were incorporated into New Zealand schools.  I held onto a bit of irony about being a white man, from a country built on colonialism and slavery, studying a topic that is so intrinsically tied to colonialism and the effects of that process on oppressed peoples.  The poem itself tries to look at varying perspectives of singular events, to try to see a thing for its cause and effect.

Dead Birds in the Shape of a Cleft Note:

This poem is a further exploration of the themes of freedom and lack of attachment that I see in birds, and simultaneously the limitations on that ideal.  I was trying to point at the irony of birds as an idea of freedom and art with the use of starlings, a bird introduced to the U.S. by a Shakespeare enthusiast that have now reached nearly 200 million in population and are an environmental blight.

Spizella Arborea:

I had a lot of ideas happening in this poem that kind of blended together in a hapless way.  I talk about flight and birds a lot and chose a bird that nested on the ground purposefully to continue the idea of birds being free/not free at the same time.  I was also trying to show that in the process of taking them to the desert, which is far from their natural habitat of the tundra, also taking a couple shots at US environmental policy currently with its utter rejection of common sense and science and the peril of that position."


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