Unequal Exchange

Catherine Karnitis
A golden-crowned 
sparrow meets my gaze, 
through the window, 

acknowledging the five 
dollar block of suet, 
I placed in the squirrel-

proof cage.  She performs 
a dance in front of me, 
as if I’m a queen 

behind glass. My rhythms 
influence her day.  I am 
not aware of it, most

of the time.  The ocean
is not far away
(I almost never see it).  

I hear her voice 
the loudest, her elegy, 
her lament, three 

descending notes.  I sit 
on a splintering 
bench in the yard, 

taking a break 
from toxic,
recycled air.  

In between 
her condolences 
and silence, I scare 

her away with my 
bird sound imitations.
Inside of a home 

that ticks
like a clock, I sleep
with poetry books

and rest in my bird-
centered imagination.  
In my solitude,

I dream of an America
that is not always
at war. 

Catherine Karnitis is a poet and recent graduate of the MFA in Writing program at the University of San Francisco. Her poetry is published in The Ekphrastic Review, POETiCA REViEW, Howl literary journal, the Telepoem Booth© project, and elsewhere.  She has an MA in History from the University of California, Berkeley and an MA in Art History from The Ohio State University.  She is a former poetry editor.



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