Poetry by Brian D. Morrison: “The Idea of Canaries”

Psychoanalysis tells us the secret
of healthy living: speech. Unspoken
thoughts can travel at light speed
ramped to the power of 1938, the year
Freud’s four sisters were not savable.

He joked, I can most highly recommend
the Gestapo to everyone. He could say
little more and filled his throat
with canaries. The birds would sing,
and then silence. Canary

after canary stopped unconscious closer
to his lips. Freud would sometimes
play with the birds. His cigar that was
a cigar would coat their wings in smoke,
and they would roost in his lungs

quiet as stalactites. Other times, Freud
would fill them with thimbles of coffee
and dance as he swallowed, hoping
they could reach the poison’s source
and peck him clean of it.

But too soon, the canaries began dying
by small whiffs of his breath, the cave
in him colder without them. So, he begged
his doctor—torture now—for the morphine
that would end him—it has no longer

any sense. At the autopsy, the coroner,
a fan, read Freud to Freud: One day,
in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you
as the most beautiful. He cut open Freud’s
chest. Yellow song filled the room.

 

 

***

Brian D. Morrison completed his MFA at the University of Alabama, where he was an assistant editor at Black Warrior Review. His poetry has appeared at West Branch, The Bitter Oleander, Verse Daily, Copper Nickel, Cave Wall, and other journals. Currently, he works as an Assistant Professor of English at Ball State University.

Image: wsimag.com

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