Avian Flu | Lilly Barels

I want granite instead of bones for ribs.
I want cold stone to remind my heart that
it has a bad habit of bumping up against flesh.
I want to stop the sparks.

I do not want a crow to live imprisoned in the granite cage.
I would prefer he not wear his velvety black jacket
studded with broken beaks, with drooping wings.
He would starve inside my chest

because the sun is scared of the moon’s smile.
The wine of daylight cannot medicate
the blood, the bone, the granite’s gold flashes.
The crow would go blind and lose his appetite.

I do not want him to let the lilacs grow outside,
dropping pollen like commas, like weapons of mass destruction.
I pray he can master my heart and its bumps.
I want him to remove the bone, splinters and all.


Lilly Barels wanted to be an FBI agent, then changed her obsession to neuroscience as an undergrad at UCLA, and finally decided to put on her red polka dot bikini and move to the island of Oahu where she teaches high school physics and funky flow vinyasa yoga. Her poetry has been published in the Honolulu Weekly and she is finishing her first YA novel ranging thematically from alcoholic mothers and sex underwater to failed suicide attempts. She is currently getting her MFA in Creative Writing through Antioch University Los Angeles.

Vagabond City Literary Journal

Founded in 2013, we are a literary journal dedicated to publishing outsider literature. We publish art, prose, reviews, and interviews from marginalized creators.