This is what they say—
when she hurts, song birds nest
on her shoulders & vines send tendrils
up her legs, lest she float upward,
departing to the clouds & sky forever.

This is what they say—
somewhere over the horizon beckons
more horizon, while down the road,        more road,
that some dreams deserve to die
& we should learn to tell time.

This is what they say—
love is homespun stitches & the        Thorazine shuffle,
all bucket of nails, rickets and spider,        rabid bit
& strapped to a gurney. Laugh it off,        love.


I write most often from a point of nostalgia — in which I don’t imply halcyon. I’m interested more in the passion and longing of impermanence. I read somewhere about nostalgia as phantom limb syndrome — the false impression, often painful, of something amputated still being present, still attached. What a brutally beautiful metaphor for life. The title of the collection, like the title of these poems, is taken from a traditional children’s song, “When sheep get up in the morning.” There’s a metaphor in there, too, I think.


M. Bartley Siegel's work has appeared in Bateau, Lumberyard, Monkeybicycle, DIAGRAM & elsewhere. His poetry collection, This is what they say, is forthcoming from Typecast Publishing. He is founding editor of PANK Magazine.

'On Buying a Wedding Dress', Elizabeth Langemak

'Midnight', Mike Sukach

'From a Collapsed Hay Bale', Colin Pope