My friend, Phil Harvey, beset with allergies, drives us to the ranch. The ostriches stay on their side of the chicken wire, though now and again, a few snake their heads over to snatch a bit of chow from outstretched hands. A male crouches, fanning his feathers, seeking to impress a female who is not unwilling. They try mating, but he can only stay hard a few seconds. Ostrich sex, I learn from a ranch hand, is brief, over in an eyeblink. I feel bad. Giant misfit birds — they can’t fly, sing or fuck very well. I sympathize. I’m crammed with urges my body can’t indulge — the Erotic Accordion, Passion Propeller — my pubic hair silvered, my potency diminished. I offer the rest of my chow to the birds. The female wanders off while the male emits a lonesome trumpeting that sounds a lot like Phil blowing his nose.

About the author

Michael Steffen's fourth poetry collection, Blood Narrative, was recently published by Main Street Rag. New work has appeared in Chiron Review, The Comstock Review…

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Issue 24 · Autumn 2021

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