Gone Lawn
a journal of literature
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Gone Lawn 20
Winter, 2016

Featured painting, Queen of Vision by Dean Reynolds.

New Works

Kieron Walquist

Birds Set Free

We grab our pets by the throat. Clip slender wings with rusty shears. Shave and shatter tender talons with dull pocketknives. Pluck red and yellow feathers by hand — forbid flight. We release our pets to the coal mines. To the wishing wells. To the volcanos.
Buried amongst the peaks of stalagmites and valleys of soot and stone, inhumed along the rivers of lava flow and glaciers of obsidian, entombed by oblivion, devastating starlessness, they'll sing to us. Songs that could be breathtaking, melodies that could transcend beauty, but we wouldn't care — their birdy music only matters because it means: air is safe for our weak lungs to breathe.
Our lovelies will never see the sun again. Never feel the breeze (the hot hush of air below, a dark thundercloud, leaves them to lift and spread and flap their naked limbs, instinctively and desperately; thirsty for the heavens). They'll never get to taste the sweet nectar of wildflowers or get drunk on the morning dew. Never lay their young in nests housed high up in spruce or teach their fledglings how to soar and kiss the sky.
Still, our canaries will sing. Serenade, speak and shout to us about the treasure trove just beneath the surface; the gold, the emerald, the crystal — the nourishment to satisfy our hunger-crazed eyes. Birds set free always find a song.
But they don't. We rush to the mouth of coal mines, to the jaws of volcanos, and scream down their throats to reach our beloveds eaten alive.
Why won't the radiation let them sing?

Kieron Walquist lives in Missouri, where he's addicted to the hokey-pokey — but he's turning himself around, and that's what it's all about. His fiction has appeared in 365 Tomorrows, Electric Cereal, Flash Fiction Magazine, Purple Pig Lit, Unreality House and elsewhere.