Eating dog food in the long driveway
or a stray french fry exposed by the upturned trash can,
do they feel the echo of the cottonwood and sycamore,
which was their verdant home
before development made them thrive?
Do they not miss the old growth forests,
standing with knees bent, claws gripping the bark,
the yellow halo surrounding their disdainful eye,
their sharp black beak,
and the slender shining judges robes
which swell into a feathered porcupine of justice,
addressing the little brown wrens and chipmunks,
frozen with seeds and nuts in hand?
Here they must scream to be recognized,
millions of them, at dusk
collecting on the power lines and bare limbs downtown
like black leaves in a racing imitation of spring.
Tourists gasp and regulars speak louder over
their cacophonous symphony,
the rusty gates of their harsh introduction
and the roar of their concurrent clacks,
a percussive mimic of sunset.
Today I saw a grackle on the pavement
his wings tucked close like a shawl
his head and collar was murky
blue and green like a deep pool
in the jungle, and his eyes were closed
like small crescents of darkened moon.
And suddenly he did not look like any other black bird
he is often mistaken for.
The raven and the crow
are both detested and revered,
for the way they perch eerily,
invoking Poe’s stormy nights,
and the rough shrewd care for an infant
Dalai Lama, swooping in for missing parents.
All the grackle has,
is its harsh eye and that voice,
like old papers blowing around in the creaking attic, or
bones breaking, or
two sheets of metal rubbed together, or
a machinegun, or fireworks, or an earthquake.
And when they gather at nightfall, it is to tell you
that once, before you were born,
and your ancestors addicted them to wide open space and grain,
they were kings,
and this is the sound of war.