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the queen


at the crest of an emerald vale, the bird queen arches her neck.


the world rolls off her like tar beads across the puckered hide of a gull. 


she shivers, once.


she fingers the silk at the breast of her high-collared shirt feeling the grain of its weave between her thumb and forefinger. She listens to its infintessimally small rustle- a drop in the ocean of white noise created by the wind-tunnels and vorteces that whip the crest.


thistle whistles in rippling hisses.


the still-born storm whispers but doesn’t crackle. winds with no rain. clouds that form self-contained empires of vapor without relunquishing so much as a drop. they whirl toward the horizon in droves.


the queen raises her right hand like a  weather vane, palm open to the western horizon. 


vast, vast sheets of slate blue, beyond orchards that drip with round fruit in jewel-tones. The trees are arranged in ornate chess-board geometries to rival the finest work of any gardener of the Sun Palace, and their blossoms and buds ornament the scene with the stunning intricacy of a Faberge.


From her aerial perspective, she watches every fawn, every dove, every trout in the stream, every stone’s turn, and every leaf’s fall. She knows the exact ratio of color on every leaf in the orchard as they crisp to brown in the fall, she can recite the precise coordinates of every trout-egg in the brook in spawning season. She knows the favorite resting place of each and every monarch butterfly, and she knows the spirit-name of every fawn as it tumbles new-born from its mothers womb. 


As she raises her hand, one bird from every genus and phyllum slowly changes its course in flight toward the top of the ridgeline. They fall in line and circle her raised wrist in procession, whirling, slowly 


so slowly-


a twirling bracelet of birds-


turtledoves, bohemian waxwings, black-crowned night herons with scarlet eyeballs- little rose-breasted grosbeaks and lazuli buntings, gathering in homage.


our bird queen, She- 


beauty of the valley, doyenne of the Chordata phylum, our prima donna in a feather cloak.


Air kisses her and passes, wordless. Air knows no laws, no bounds, crosses borders without declaration. Like Atilla’s huns, air whips across the valley in innumerabley vast cavalries, then disappears into the wall of fog that rises beyond the orchards and before the sea. The queen worries little over that which is not under her rule. Each air molecule is its own master. She calls none to order but the animal kingdom. 


A black Toyota Tacoma is filled with sunflower seeds that glisten with oil. It skids gently as it rides out the curves of Topanga pass, leaving long, slow black marks on the sun-bleached asphalt. Heat mirages glisten in its wake, giving it the illusion of floating through the canyon on a raft of mirrored glass. Two retirees shuffle in their Adidases, emerging at the Backbone Trailhead. A ceramicist carries boxes of bisque porcelain in the passenger seat of her pickup. They clang like bells of hollow bone, their texture somewhere between metallic and earthy. She will paint them with the laurels and bluebirds of the canyon, etching the visage of this landscape onto the clay of the land, unsure of which will outlive the other- the image or the original. 


Overcome by a sense of immediate and present beauty, the bird queen collapses at the knees, gathering armfuls of top soil toward her, weeping into the earth itself. Her tears gather on a layer of granite and stream down from the ridgeline in salty rivulets.

Her whirling batallion of bird attendants stop in their motion, and land one by one at her fingertips. They bow their heads with dignity, and acknowledge the gravitas of the queen’s unprecedented expression of feeling. The queen raises her neck, gazes slowly into each of their deep black eyes, and bows her head. She kisses each of their wing-tips, and they fly away again to resume their daily order of business. 


She rises.


our bird queen, She- 


beauty of the valley, protector of crest and vale, proud queen of the birds.

A+HRRA award summer 2023

The Summer 2023 Arts + Human Rights Research Award will be open to submissions this summer (approx. 14:51 UTC June 21 2023 - 06:50 UTC September 23rd 2023). The topic of the Summer 2023 A+HRRA is AI, Computer Logic, and Human Rights. 


th_Eroses, an arts publication, is awarding $100 for a work of artistic / literary research that addresses or concerns human rights in conjunction with this season's topic, AI, Computer Logic, and Human Rights. The term 'research' here is intended to indicate the process of creation, exploration, and discovery, rather than the compiling of archival facts and/or materials, although the compiling of archival facts and/or materials may be a part of the process of exploration and discovery, or a part of the process of shaping the path or direction of discovery. This is intended to be an open-ended premise, to support the range of work that may occur in artists' and writers' unique processes. 


From the UN: 


"What Are Human Rights? Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more. Everyone is entitled to these rights, without discrimination."


Successful submissions may, but are not required to, focus on investigative, process-based exploration and material discovery. Successful submissions may couple rigorous (or subjective) analysis with documentation of investigative, process-based exploration and discovery. Submissions do not need to be factual; forms of literary fiction, subjective expression, abstraction, choreography, and/or non-narrative presentations will be considered as well. Submissions in all languages and media are welcomed. 


The goal of this award is to amplify artistic voices that inquisitively and critically approach the pressing issues of our time, to create a habitat where a unique form of creative journalism can thrive, and to provide th_Eroses readers with artistic / literary insights into key issues.


Please note: If your work is submitted and selected for the award, you consent to the publication of your submitted work by th_Eroses now and in the future. Not all submissions will win the award; there may be one submission chosen, or multiple submissions, or none of the submissions. Selected submissions will receive an email of acceptance and next steps. 


Please submit work to with "Entry: Arts + Human Rights Research Award" in the subject line.

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