Scout & Birdie
Scout & Birdie

You don’t have to give me a name, 
if I had one, if you wanted one to give me
I’d say,

call me a Saboteur.

While I burn and steal,
I am no arsonist
nor a thief 

I am an assassin,
but on my own dime, my own time, my own fight
and I work slow, like

hair loss.

Or lead.

Call me Saboteur // while I lick my wounds

See, I don’t burn bridges

the Saboteur cuts unbearable questions into the ropes.

And moves along.

When I return,
and I will, with my fondness for places
and people I did not mean to leave behind me

with the rot of the rope, unbearable answers
a misplaced step:
and I plummet.

See, I’m a saboteur. Not a soldier with their brave ascent into the battle.
Nor a psychopath.

My weapons refine. My poisons sharpen.
I lick my wounds
and I sharpen.

I have many tools, here, look in my toolbox:
A deception. A trick. A lie.
My newest one though, one I’m refining and learning well to use
is the truth.

I mean

I just hold high standards and run when I’m disappointed.

I make art, beat SOS flares out of my memories
dare ghosts out of yellow photos seen
of your face and your face and your face your faces your faces your faces it’s so hard to face ya when all I’ve ever done is failed ya. 

So I leave traps behind me 

and walk slow

for the ghosts.

So I never have to look them in the eye.

Call me Saboteur. I mean

I don’t leave. I don’t run.


I leak into the ground. My gore, my guts, my gashes, my ghosts, bones, butt, brains like liquid.

but then skin
only. Skin only and it’s a fine trap: you try to lean on me
and poof you’ve fallen into a
 moist, warm grass and the fog rises
and my skin
has crumpled like bad origami.

And now you’re left,
with only a paper friend
and your wits about you.

it’s an accumulation of experience
I could not do that before. I could only move along
leaving the ghosts and the traps in my wake.
But the skin! The beginning of a masterpiece.

Doing my deeds, doing my harm, doing my learning
all in secret on the inside of a forest, on the inside of myself.

But now, finally, after years,
I am shaping together
a shape.

And I have been learning to keep it together.

And soon, soon, you’ll be so proud so pleased
to have my full shape
and I will no longer be a Saboteur!

I could be a writer or a botanist,

I can stand for causes and be in conflict,
instead of leaving shadows behind to do my dirty work
but most importantly, most importantly and most incredibly
I can be a friend.
I can be a friend and I can face you
and make you lunch while you tell me of your problems and come to your shows and
we can text memes and jokes because when I am no longer a Saboteur I can have a sense of humor and laugh at myself.

and write you my apologies and tell you my faults
know that I can’t make up
for any of it

  Because when the Saboteur
is no longer the Saboteur,
they are not the Doctor or the Nurse.
They are not an Actor or a Counselor.

They are Nobody with nothing
but a box full of nasty tricks
a herd of limping ghosts trying to catch up to them,
and a blank space where my name goes.


About the artist...

J Van Ort is a Chicago-based writer and theater-maker. They've performed with the Neo-Futurists, Facility Theater among others. You can find their writing at Newcity Stage or on their website: They like cats and coffee, nature and ghosts.