the baby birds were hungry when the old man died
stretching out their beaks,
hungry for the only thing left he could feed them
they had long ago let scar tissue grow over that ache
of waiting for the love he could never give

and even though they were grown now
they still squabbled and spit jealousies at each other
still vying for his attention
never feeling good enough inside
because if he couldn’t love them, who could?

and if there hadn’t been so many of them
maybe he could have loved just one
then along came yet another baby
and his attention became unreachable

he softened in his old age
but the nest was so scattered by then
and now it is judgment day
where the birds will hungrily peck
at the only thing
he ever had to give.

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