WILLIAM JOHN WATKINS
 

ROAD CROWS


The birds are eating ....... mallowbars.
But he knows that's not right; he can see the birds,
black as the road tar smeared on the door of the crumpled car,
doing those twitches they always do with their heads
and clacking their beaks like sewing scissors before they speak
music without words, some dirge mixed in with a banquet march.
And under it all like a drum the metronome of the doctor's voice
telling him look at the birds, bring it out, live it down, don't be afraid.

The birds are eating ....... poisoned grapes.
But he knows that's not right;  he can see the birds
gigantic as kites when they spread their wings so close to the car
and tucking them in like napkins under a chin,
and doing that bob and bob and bob and peck
spearing the grapes he knows aren't grapes on their scissor points,
tossing them up and catching them between the blades
where they pop, and squirt and spray the ground like water balloons.
And under it all the tick, tick, tick of the doctor's voice
telling him look at the grapes, bring it out, don't lie, live it down
it can't go away, if you won't let it go.

The birds are eating .......
But he doesn't know what; he can feel the bird
land with a thump on top of his head and rustle its wings,
he can feel the dig of its claws in his scalp and the flap
of the wings against his cheek as it does that shuffle & stand
they always do, like a prayer to the gods of food before they begin to eat.
And the doctor says, you can't see now but you could,
let it go, let the sight of it come, don't be afraid, it's already done

and you do, but all you can see
is the blur and the pain and the point of the beak.
 

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