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mostly ravens, hawks & gulls

south of the city the birds were mostly ravens, hawks &

gulls that at roost would stilt themselves on legs that looked

even at a distance rough as gypsum—

sentinels plinthed

on bleachbone utility poles all along the airfield. or else they dip

long lazy arcs, new kills drip from talons fast as fists,

fat feasts to beak, entrails steaming onto evergreen loam.

& the trees almost all cypress, leafless, just dusky green nodes

& stubborn seed pods mollusk-tight, still-pure. there ravens troop,

hop awkward bough to ground, flap wings the lampblack of

a charcoal sketch & gawk & stretch & grope after spent grace.

& the gulls never land, only breeze in off the pacific

pass over our raw wood shingled roof toward

the smooth plate of the bay, brackwater held

in the gowpen of your hands. & now & then

a heron in holy silence makes itself known, long, lanky

grey against grey sky, prehistoric as the time before human speech.

& in the deaf-dumb hollow of foreclosure, shingles folded in on themselves

like craft paper, we cart off all that had accreted within like

rock columns in caves, layered like sediment or the callus on a

marathoner's foot. an extraction industry of our own making, a

kind of make-believe

& at the junkyard the gulls stepped among mountains

of trash screaming, content, i thought, “here you are, you old devils.”

portrait of my father as w. h. auden

that face—as cragged & chiseled as the earth

of ischia, of tucson, where the low-slung desert sun

makes riverbeds ravines til the monsoons come,

& peccaries carve lying-beds out of the

hard dirt of that land in their search for shade, compromising

the integrity of a back deck—

behind the dark eyeglasses of the blind,

a mendicant's old overcoat draped jealously across

shoulders that stoop, almost invisibly,

from six-odd decades' slavery to strong tea

& benzedrine & turpentine-harsh dry vodka martinis,

& those well hung teenage boys he loved so well,

looks out from deep within its canyon folds

obscuring not even a fraction of the larger portrait

&—you can't be sure—perhaps smiles.


Andrew Edmund Kane is a former senior writer for NPR’s Ask Me Another and a fiction reader for the New England Review. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Cimarron Review, The MacGuffin, The Normal School, The Rumpus, Rattle, and elsewhere. He is currently earning his MSW at New York University.


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