1. As a bird that has no hope.

Embrace the numbness in your hands, the writhing micro-fractures in your ribs as they grow into bright veins of quartz and agate, burst into winged fractals when no one is looking.

2. As a bird that thinks she has a lot of hope but really has none.

Choose the number of vertebrae you’d wish your favorite enemy to take out of your spine and treble it, if you are brave. That is the number of shiny things you must gather to attract a mate and keep yourself sane. Learn to make up the lines of poems you can’t remember. The dead won’t mind and the living are too preoccupied to care.

3. As a bird that has reached that powerful space beyond desperation.

Don’t be afraid to create with your teeth. Blind them with your claws, dive down their throats. This technique may not promise survival but in this way you can make beauty out of whoever tries to kill you.

Copyright © 2018 by Jessica Halsey.

ISBN: 9781732036703

The first edition of this ebook was published by Jessica Halsey on April 30, 2016 and was titled RIVERKILL. This second edition has revised and updated content.

PROLOGUE

—words travel across the page in a sunset song sung softly your voice bleeds the line down a drop of ink on your tongue a stumble against the rumble strip a casualty of wandering and diesel fumes skinned haunches and shattered nose point towards the ragweed spine pokes through chewed skin defiantly the beginning of the line dresses itself in a drop of ink a hemorrhage here is the horizon bleeding down generations of sunrises and sunsets light comes up light goes down when you sing the road allocates flesh absorbs blood boneandfurfeathersscales pulverized to a fine sheen over the rumble strip and the verge the road stretches out sniffs with a dead thing’s nose gulps the sky with broken teeth—