“Voltage Birds” by Emma Miao

Call them Screeners: a generation existing entirely

in virtual reality. Here is the chip implanted from

the incubator. Here is the birthmark from artifice,

tattooed on a scalp. Pleasure is a monotonous

blur of plastic & machine, whispering down

the tube-fed youth. It’s a seamless frenzy.

All the while fires desecrate Earth.

All the while carnal limbs

litter forests, smog

buzzing burnt



I-95 wisps into

asphalt and reels on its

axis, murmuring its goodbye.

This is Lake Michigan, shriveled

into Chicago. The crickets are silent.

At the ninth hour, you’ll hear the ersatz keys

lock the rims of this world & its guilty settlers.

The citizens all fall asleep under plastered smiles.

Our eyes infect the pixelated horizon. We are the

voltage birds, singing wistfully into an ashen sky.



Emma Miao is a poet from Vancouver, BC. Her work has been recognized by the Poetry Society of the United Kingdom, Pulitzer Center, and the Poetry Institute of Canada. She is a Commended Foyle Young Poet 2019, a COUNTERCLOCK Arts Collective Fellow, and an alumna of the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio. Her recent poems appear in Cosmonauts Avenue, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, and The Emerson Review, among others. Find her at emmamiao.weebly.com.

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