A Study of Birds
The businesslike crows in their
black suits and black ties
hop from the ground to the sidewalk,
their beady black eyes inspecting the asphalt before they attack
the crack that lies between the
piece of petrified gum and the fallen leaf
that crackles as the wind blows past
in a deafening groan.
The crows don't fear the turkey vulture as it flies by
in a swooping drunken way.
Wearing his drooping red mask, he looks more like a clown--
some hideous creature that was tarred with
musty black feathers
condemned forever to wear his bloodied mask.
Every day he flies, constantly searching for
the rotting carcass of a gopher or the
membrane from a newly-born calf,
until at last, defeated by the cold winter winds,
he stumbles home to his place in the eucalyptus leaves,
Ignoring the laughing caw-ha of his neighbors.
The seagulls flock behind the school's cafeteria
Swarming for bits of
beef gristle and Wonder bread and
potatoes fried in lard.
They have forgotten what their ancestors knew--
the sea thrashing the rocks below them as the
defeated cliffs bleed foam and all that is left are the
scalps of golden mermaids (we call it kelp)
that float endlessly upon the sea as they float upon the air
Angels above the eternal battle.
Now they huddle together and fight for trash
Their wings beating the plastic grocery bag full of bread into the street
until a storm comes up and one solitary seagull looks up to the heavens
With an echoing cry, he launches up and flies above us,
over the thrashing trees and thrashing humans
Until he finally disappears.