This is what they say—
when she hurts, song birds nest
on her shoulders & vines send tendrils
up her legs, lest she float upward,
departing to the clouds & sky forever.

This is what they say—
somewhere over the horizon beckons
more horizon, while down the road,        more road,
that some dreams deserve to die
& we should learn to tell time.

This is what they say—
love is homespun stitches & the        Thorazine shuffle,
all bucket of nails, rickets and spider,        rabid bit
& strapped to a gurney. Laugh it off,        love.


I write most often from a point of nostalgia — in which I don’t imply halcyon. I’m interested more in the passion and longing of impermanence. I read somewhere about nostalgia as phantom limb syndrome — the false impression, often painful, of something amputated still being present, still attached. What a brutally beautiful metaphor for life. The title of the collection, like the title of these poems, is taken from a traditional children’s song, “When sheep get up in the morning.” There’s a metaphor in there, too, I think.


M. Bartley Siegel's work has appeared in Bateau, Lumberyard, Monkeybicycle, DIAGRAM & elsewhere. His poetry collection, This is what they say, is forthcoming from Typecast Publishing. He is founding editor of PANK Magazine.

'At the Palazzo Barberini', Richie Hofmann

'Hands', Sara Grossman

'Warsaw II', Nick McRae