Friday, July 01, 2011

Noir, with Crows

Black feathers swirled around the street
in slow summer breezes.
The dead crow haunted our block for days
moving from sidewalk to street and back
under some mysterious power. None of us touched it
fearing its sable iridescence, like strong acid
would dissolve our fingers
into depthless shadows.
No post-mortem was conducted
but there were theories.

Crows chase squirrels into traffic
and feed on the bodies. Risky business. Misjudged
speed or distance-- splat.
The mob that gathered up on the water tower
the day before, discussing things in urgent tones--
pure coincidence.

is the collective noun for crows. Solitary stealth,
the stab to the back, the blow in the dark
is not their style. Some corvine Caesar struts his stuff
before the mob on the water tower-- and they attack
bringing him down. It's a participatory thing,
no bystanders or spectators.

A comedian gets up on the water tower,
struts his stuff, gets heckled. Raucous commentary
by crow critics drives him away. He may try
to find sanctuary with a brooding poet,
renounce the stage forevermore. If not,
death by glass. Not by drinking,
by a speeding windshield.

Avian nations are borderless
but not lawless. Atop the water tower
he stands accused by raucous testimony
from the crowd. There is no defense.
The sentence: death.

Natural Causes

There is no defense among crows
against avian encephalitis, bird flu, Newcastle disease,
or scaly leg. The only recourse
is ruthless quarantine. The flock on the water tower
gossips about plague, like medieval villages
during the Black Death. Every beady eye
is peeled for signs of sickness.
Coughing, he's driven out to die alone.

Audience Noir
Someone buried the victim, or the criminal
and left a stick to mark the grave.
We watch for crows to visit:
a gloating enemy, a grieving hatchmate,
a corvine Sam Spade with a cigarette stub
dangling crooked from his beak.
But though appropriately garbed in black,
they ignore our tropes. We return
no verdict.

Collection available! Knocking from Inside

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