Jonathan Shipley


A lake’s greatest gift might be showing the stars the stars.
It took me a long time to be comfortable enough for me 

to tell you I love you. It took a longer time for me to tell

others I love you. I wanted to be sure of it. I had lied 

to myself for so long and everyone I ever knew

knew the truth. It was that time in Chicago - the first time
you ran across the street with me under the train clatter.


There are no borders between anything. The lake

Ends at the shore, does it? But the grass and the 

trees beyond reflect, too, and in the forest are all

those beech trees - still gold even in winter when 

all their brothers stand naked before gods and skies.

It took me an hour after we crossed the street
for me to touch the small of your back in an art museum.
An hour after that - to hold your small warm hand.

An hour after that - to hold you in a room full of 

paperweights, little globes reflecting stars. Time.

What I mean is that I loved you before we knew each other.
After we died in a bed in our 80s, as the birds chatted in the backyard.


Do birds wonder what type of bird is an ambulance
racing down the interstate? Do they wonder what 

species of bird a train is that rolls slow through a

small town? Cars darting through intersections

angrily: a mating call? What is an airplane to a bird?
Don’t ever think you know the thoughts of another.

We are so beautiful and so misunderstood.

There is hardly a day that goes by that I don’t

Think it’d be greatest wish to know what’s going on

in my wife’s head. Her mind some many

feathered thing: brilliant and unfurled.


I keep reading it as CORVID-19.
I imagine a murder of crows in
descent leading us to our death’s
graves, nested in our dark hubris.


O! You small creature in the maw.
I have wings and you are no angel.



The world is on fire
And on Dick Pritchard’s
real estate website I am

watching a cam of a baby

eagle hatching from its egg.

I keep telling people that
I don’t want people to 

all die, humanity to end

entirely, but it’s good 

knowing above us, our

graves, in some old snag,

a bird is cracking out.

Jonathan Shipley is a writer living in Atlanta, Georgia. His work has appeared in such varied publications as the Los Angeles Times, Compound Butter, Fine Books & Collections Magazine, McSweeney’s, and Welding and Cutting Magazine. He started writing in elementary school when his teacher, Mrs. Reynolds, said he might have a knack for it. He’s still not so sure.

Twitter: @shipleywriter
Instagram: /jonathanshipley