in lieu of singing “happy birthday”

sing me gold & sing me blue; sing me back into the mud & clay / & then: carve into me your
initials; alphabet like origin story, bone deep / an artist by osmosis–true, i am much too tender-
hearted for your end of the worlds / & when i ask for fire, what i mean is singe my fingers back
into forests, whole / & they will give their thanks in feathered things & fragile sap / & when you
give me an open flame / make it a gift, instead–true, i no longer believe in wishes / but i believe
that we should still eat this cake / ’cause you can always spare the sugar through the smoke, my
love / isn’t that what your mother always said? / you can always spare the sugar / true.

An avid introvert, full-time carbon-based life-forrm and aspiring himbo, Ashley Cline’s poetry has appeared here & also there. A Pushcart nominee and Best of the Net 2020 finalist, her debut chapbook, “& watch how easily the jaw sings of god,” (Glass Poetry Press, 2021) & “electric infinites” (Variant Lit, 2023) are available now.