HomePoetryBirds Fly Over Houses

Birds Fly Over Houses

Birds fly over houses
where children tug at empty skirts
and shout into boarded-up ears
and implore boarded-up eyes to look look look
look what I can do
while empty adults with boarded-up hearts
teach them to only look at screens
and to only care about money
and to never shout about anything at all.

Birds fly over houses
with middle aged couples
who have run out of things to say
so they’ll talk about groceries for an hour
and how Aldi has cheap sauerkraut at the moment
so they don’t feel how truly lonely they are
now that the kids are gone
and they are trapped with someone
they’d never noticed
they never loved.

Birds fly over houses
with walls lit by flickering screens in the dark
full of yammering news men
and hyuck hyuck comedians
and body fluids squirting on faces
and blaring advertisements for lack
shining into eyes
which connect to optic nerves
which connect to cobwebs and dust
and darkness.

Birds fly over houses
where parents bite children with sharp teeth
until there is nothing left of them
and they must have children of their own
to bite with their own sharp teeth
to fill the unfillable holes in their flesh
so the screaming will stop
but it never stops.

Birds fly over houses
where mothers stare out windows and sip Clorox
while fathers do unspeakable things to daughters
in their bedrooms with pink blankets
and unicorn wallpaper
and glow-in-the-dark stars stuck to the ceiling
and religious books on the bookshelf
full of lies.

Birds fly over houses
and off to the forests and the fields
and the lakes and the oceans
and the garbage dumps and the car parks
and beyond,
and they are not caged.

They are not caged.







Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics onTwitter, checking out my podcast on either YoutubesoundcloudApple podcasts or Spotify, following me on Steemit, throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypalpurchasing some of my sweet merchandise, buying my books Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone and Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.

Bitcoin donations:1Ac7PCQXoQoLA9Sh8fhAgiU3PHA2EX5Zm2

Liked it? Take a second to support Caitlin Johnstone on Patreon!

Latest comments

  • I often feel like this at the horrible things being revealed. These are the times of the Book of Revelation meaning unveiled or revealed God’s enemies who they really are and who His true people are, the second judgment reveals that good people will go to heaven, the first judgment is for people who believe in the Lord Jesus and is for rewards -Blessed are they who die henceforth in the LORD.

    A most beautiful Advent hymn as we wait for the soon Second Coming –
    Rorate Caeli – Catholic Gregorian Chant Hymns
    Petrus Josephus
    61.3K subscribers

    • Roráte caéli désuper, et núbes plúant jústum.

      Drop down ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness:

      We have sinned, and are as an unclean thing,
      and we all do fade as a leaf:
      and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away;
      thou hast hid thy face from us:
      and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities.

      Behold, O Lord, the affliction of thy people
      and send forth Him who is to come
      send forth the Lamb, the ruler of the earth from Petra of the desert to the mount of the daughter of Sion
      that He may take away the yoke of our captivity

      Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord,
      and my servant whom I have chosen;
      that ye may know me and believe me:
      I, even I, am the Lord, and beside me there is no Savior:
      and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.

      Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people,
      my salvation shall not tarry:
      why wilt thou waste away in sadness?
      why hath sorrow seized thee?
      Fear not, for I will save thee:
      for I am the Lord thy God,
      the Holy One of Israel, thy Redeemer

  • Awesome

  • The courage you possess, which shines through your political posts and your poetry, inspires me and touches me and shows me a glimmer of who I am. I feel uplifted that you are here on Earth at this time remembering your soul along with the rest of us.

  • As we presumptuously psychoanalyze Caitlin via her latest poem (read various comments below), whether she is optimistic or pessimistic, filled with hope or despair, Albert Schweitzer’s distinction between optimism/pessimism of the intellect, and optimism/pessimism of the will, offers illumination. The former concerns one’s assessment or judgment concerning the current state of things; the latter, one’s desire and determination to change things for the better. Schweitzer points out that we often confuse these categories, considering it optimistic or hopeful to make a favorable (or at least tolerable) assessment of reality, and pessimistic or despairing to make the assessment that things in general are too much of a mess–or an evil–to be redeemable by gradual, incremental improvement. He goes on to explain that these four states of mind and heart always occur in matched pairs; i.e., if one plays the card of optimism of the intellect (things aren’t so bad), then one simultaneously plays the card of pessimism of the will (things will gradually work out on their own), and vice versa. Given this framework, no reader of Caitlin’s blog can characterize her as anything but a passionate optimist of the will. Thus, she is also by necessity a pessimist of the intellect. In other words, it’s only because Caitlin longs so deeply for a better, more beautiful world that she is so caustically critical of the neoliberal world we live in, which to her (as to many of us) is a nightmare in far too many ways. My apologies to Caitlin in talking about her as a person instead of focusing on the thoughts and feelings she chooses to share with us–which is not to say that she really gives a crap about promiscuous public opinions on an intimately private and personal matter.

    • Thanks to Mr. Finn or these deeply thoughtful and wisely perceptive comments. I wouldn’t think apologies are needed, however. I would assume that Ms. Johnstone cares a great deal about the resonations from the hearts and minds of others that her work creates. If someone truly didn’t “give a crap”, then what would one’s motivations, as a ‘writer’, be?

      Writing is communication. It inherently hopes for ‘connection’. One who ‘talks’ wants someone to ‘listen’.What the reader takes from a ‘work’, or creates from it, is as important as what the writer put into it. This reflects Oscar Wilde’s thesis in ‘The Critic as Artist’.

      There is the opposing ‘Salinger’ idea, that a writer writes solely to write, without concern for whether anyone will even read her or his material, let alone any care about what anyone thinks of one’s work. As an esoteric concept, that is very ‘romantic’. Kind of a variation of the Rimbaud legend.

      Salinger lived it, of course. Salinger is said to have written copiously, every day, with great discipline, for decades on end, and just stuck the material in a drawer, not sharing it with anyone, (even his wives, apparently).

      I don’t think that the motivations that Salinger decided to have, (after sampling fame and finding it overwhelming), are likely very common. They certainly don’t seem ‘natural’, meaning they don’t seem to comply with human nature. I have to wonder if his steely determination simply represented his commitment to a chosen pretentious affectation. Did he ever have second thoughts? He didn’t burn the pages after writing them, after all. Didn’t he likely secretly hope (and/or assume) that they would be read someday?

      Some writers have left instructions in their wills that their unpublished works should be destroyed. Human motivations are certainly complex. If it was a ‘great writer’ who left such a will, who would carry out such instructions, and what would her or his motivations be? Why did the writer even save the work at all, to be the object of dramatic posthumous instructions? Doesn’t that smack of a ‘legend’ being cultivated?

      Human motivations are intricately complex.

      And it sure seems that a ‘political’ writer, like Ms. Johnstone, someone who writes not merely with the motive of intimate communication with the reader, but rather with the motive of affecting the actual unfolding of events, (through inspiring people to a higher consciousness that will allow effective political action), should, and therefore would, (politics is always results oriented), care very much about how her or his material is perceived and responded to.

      • I quite agree, Caliban, that a writer cares or should care deeply about how her work resonates in the minds and hearts of her readers. Her WORK. That to me is a different matter than whether a writer cares or should care about what a particular reader thinks of HER, expressed in speculations, however sympathetic, about her psychological health. As usual, I enjoyed your substantive and evocative observations.

        • Well … We’re probably getting down to the point where indenting, (in this somewhat awkward discussion software) reduces comments to a narrow line of letters down the center, (LOL). Making a distinction between a writer (and/or ‘artist’), and her or his work is an interesting concept, and would make a fascinating discussion.

          Let’s let that ‘settle and simmer’ for now, to be kept in mind and brought up as both familiarity of acquaintance and development of mutual discussion and understanding allow. (You are clearly a person of great depth, sir, and like Kerouac was drawn to ‘the mad ones’, many of us are drawn to people like you whose thoughts which are shared are clearly derived from much deep consideration and self-examination.

          I am hyper-sensitive to other people’s emotional reality, to their emotional ‘being’ in real time. I will admit that as a person who has ‘faced the Demon’ often enough myself, I have been rather worried about the tone of Ms. Johnstone’s recent work. I guess in my awkward way, I was just trying to be supportive, which I suppose is presumptuous, since she is a complete stranger with whom I’m not the least acquainted, other than (as you point out) through her work.

          That very element has been depicted as a large part of the problem that Salinger had with fame. ‘Catcher in the Rye’ was such a powerful work that affected people so deeply that complete strangers came to feel as if they were ‘related’, as if they knew Salinger, and he should know them.

          Dylan talks about the same kind of thing in his discomfort with fame, (and his Rimbaud-like retreat from it, though not nearly as extreme as Salinger’s).

          You’re one ‘a the Really Good Ones, Mr Finn. I can tell already. And I’m glad to have made your acquaintance. (Or maybe you just got me fooled. I’m rather an easy ‘mark’ … (LOL..)

  • Life is a fine thing—so above and beyond everything, we have to defend life. We shouldn’t sacrifice a generation in the name of such dreams.

    You can be shaped, or you can be broken. There is not much in between.

    The ideas contained within are seeds thrown to the wind, perhaps none will find a purchase, a place, a home, but even if one finds the darkest crevice, it can grow, and spawn its own seeds, thrown to the wind yet again.

    Is it ambitious? Of course. Likely to fail? Of course. But then so were so many other things, until they happened.

    To those dark crevices, those rotting pits, you are still fertile ground. You can still grow beautiful things despite the darkness. And we need you now more than ever.

    And, if it becomes too much, if you are going to leap over that ledge, at least try to take some of the bastards out with you.


    “Too long. . . a great sleep aid. . . ”
    —Ken Burns

  • Excellent poem. Thank you very much.

  • Good poem but I think you are channeling a little bit of Edgar Allen Poe with this one.

  • A bit gloomy? Can we not be more sanguine? I know it would be lying to be sanguine but it would be happy lying.

  • Start it in B minor.

  • True, Caitlin but birds fly over loving families and independent thinkers too. Perhaps a poem to celebrate the good?

    • Her poem certainly is a bleak statement. I’m sad for her that it seems that she is being assaulted by the Demon of Hopelessness. People as highly motivated as Caitlyn Johnstone must periodically face this powerful Demon.

      We cannot call it the “Hopeless Demon”, because it is not, itself, hopeless at all. It always burns with white-hot hopes to fill our hearts and own our spirits. This Demon is glowering hot with voracious hope to own every soul, for no other purpose than to be a trophy on a Demon’s Burning Mantle.

      At those times when we are full of hope, even those times when we find measures of joy, when we feel a sense of personal agency, of power over our lives, Demon Hopeless watches with patiently red-black burning hope to find where we are weakest. And THAT is where the Demon will make its white-hot assault.

      What does Ms. Johnstone feel most for the people whose bleak sad lives she writes about? What fate does she wish would befall them? If I were a cunning demon, THAT is where I would look for where I could try to destroy all hope in her.

      This Demon loves a challenge. It would not hunt a pigeon once an eagle came into view.

      A super highly motivated person, as Ms. Johnstone has for so long shown herself to be, draws the Demon’s burning hopes to own her heart even more than weaker ones. It takes great courage to hold to hope, to feel joy and pain, to dare to love. The most courageous spirits are the ones this Demon burns hottest, whitest, like phosphor showering sparks that melt into soft skin, to set upon Its molten trophy Mantle.

      So many tools the Demon has against us.

      And all we have is love.

      I don’t often write poetry, but I did write a poem years ago, about hope, and love, and the wonder of love’s courage that always comes to curse our hearts again.

      This woman clearly does not need my help. I think she has faced this Demon many times before. She remembers coming out beyond with spirit whole, undaunted, stronger even than ever. Those memories will provide her a vision of a future beyond this latest battle.

      She already has gathered enough of what the Yaqui brujo, Don Juan, called ‘medicine’, (when he told his story to Castaneda), as gifts from spirits that have rewarded her courage in the past. The ‘medicine’ her spirit has gathered will always reward her with ‘knowledge’, (Don Juan called it, thought the translation is awkward, Castaneda mentioned). She ‘knows’ she can face this Demon of Hopelessness, even alone, and still her own love WILL prevail.

      I ‘speak’ as an old ape-man who has faced this Demon a time or few myself. This woman does not need my help … But … Maybe revisiting this poem, from so many years ago, will provide a salve of some kind of ‘medicine’, for some soul, somewhere, wandering where the bleakest, loneliest, most hopeless winds always blow.

      Mourning Rubble
      For Gaza

      When darkness overcomes us
      And Hope lies in the past
      What in our hearts sustains us?
      How do we make love last?

      When our weakness overwhelms us,
      And we watch as children die,
      How can we breathe this still foul air?
      What makes us even try?

      We see grief upon a father’s face.
      We hear a mother’s scream.
      How do we find another place
      For tortured hearts to dream?

      With darkness all around us
      Where do we find a light?
      What makes us wake another day
      To strive to set things right?

      What makes us dare to toil and sweat?
      What makes us try again?
      What fools are we as we forget?
      Is darkness some strange friend?

      What fools has this God made us
      To believe in spite of all
      That we can build a city
      On this rubble of Hope’s fall?

      What fools has this God made us
      To hold this foolish thought
      When Hope is but a memory
      Ere yesterday’s battle was fought?

      What fools has this God made us
      To wake another day
      To greet the sun with gritted teeth
      To hold our pain this way?

      Where comes this courage to curse us
      To strive when Hope is gone
      To place tired step and then again
      Make empty hearts march on?

      Yet this is how God made us
      As woman and man and friend
      To hold each to each in darkness
      To await this foul night’s end.

      Morning’s light reveals the rubble
      And darkness fills our soul
      And Hope is scarce remembered
      As a diamond gone back to coal

      Dark misery fills the rubble
      Pain crushes every heart
      Evil grabs with rage-honed claws
      To tear our souls apart.

      How look we on this horrid scene?
      How do we breathe again?
      How will we own this bitterness?
      And ever love again?

      But in this morning’s glaring darkness
      We hear a baby’s cry
      Love pours again from foolish hearts
      Like sweet rain from empty sky.

      And thus has this God made us
      Like fools who have no choice
      And innocence melts the darkness
      And we hear Love’s fatal voice.

      And Love will own our hearts again
      And from it Hope is born
      In the face of death and tragedy
      We smile bravely and face this morn.

      When darkness overcomes us
      And Hope lies in the past
      It is Love itself that saves us
      And Hope ever follows fast.

      It is Love itself that saves us
      ‘Tween woman and man and friend
      Love that gives us courage
      And Hope that will not end.


      • Excellent thoughts Caliban. And a beautiful poem as well. You have obviously deeply considered this archetypal, recurrent human problem. Well done, and carry on….

  • Heartfelt darkness –
    hope it’s not yours


  • Birds fly over houses
    Being shot at from a distance
    Giving them at least a chance of not being shot
    While those below roll up their sleeves
    So spiritual skeletons can shoot them exactly where they want
    With weapons no one in the room knows anything about

    • Hmmmm.
      How human are these ghosts?
      Is the soul sucked out by the State of skeletal hostilities .
      How dead they are.
      How hateful and full of what they are not.

  • Fake smile
    it disappears
    its back
    its gone
    like the wings of a bird
    is the psychopathic face of the PM of NZ

    ( she learnt that from working for a war criminal)

    • Yeah no.
      I thought it was pretty negative and depressive.

      Like the perfect theme song of the COVID pysop.

      Birds are beautiful and holy creatures( not Freefall holy but with the We)

  • Nice poetry but are those really birds, or American made drones manufacturered to look like birds carrying lethal payloads of designer viruses intended to kill us?

    • …Or the Singapore robot dogs designed to keep us apart?
      Man’s fear based creations.
      Instead create through love not fear ( fear is a symptom of the conditioned mind=pas in you eternity is only in the NOW)

  • Pretty dark in there Caity.

    • Yip.

  • Ouch, Ms Johnstone, Ouch!

  • Caitlin,
    That is one of the most beautiful poems I have ever read. Thank you.

  • wow, is that a nice piece of work. thank you for that.

leave a comment