Finalist for the 2023 Auburn Witness Poetry Prize Honoring Jake Adam York
By Jed Myers
VOLUME 56 No. 3
This clear late-fall afternoon, crows
gambol on whipping escalators of wind
off the lake. Sharp silhouettes fling
themselves from the trees to the heights,
only to be flipped by blasts of air, dropped
back to the fray of branches. No,
it’s more—I see the crows play-
harass each other. They even gang up
a few against one, as on an eagle
who’s flown too near a nest of their young.
Fending off an assault, a flyer
fails to adjust wings fast to a gust
and plummets. This game, seems they love it.
A bird hounded from the sky soars
on the next attack. How good it felt
to taunt the new day’s targeted kid
along with the rest in our pack. Not me
again. It’d be Barry Lipton
spin-falling like a torn-off leaf
to scuff away on the mud. He’d disappear
into a row house like mine. Those times
I did secretly fear one of us
might make a life of hurting. After all that
curse and cringe. And given a crow
may also hold some self-sense, might it
ever, after one pointed jab
too many, unhinge talon and beak
to slash through another’s skin to bone?
Knowing, as we do, how to get back.
Up on those buffeting blue ramps, dark
blades overlap as they loop and veer.
I linger to watch the crows clash, as if
I’ll catch when one bloodies its own.
• • •
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JED MYERS is the author of Watching the Perseids (winner of the Sacramento Poetry Center Book Award), The Marriage of Space and Time (MoonPath Press), and forthcoming, Learning to Hold (winner of the Wandering Aengus Press Editors’ Award). His fifth chapbook is The Arcane Mechanics of Constant Lift (winner of the Sheila-Na-Gig Chapbook Competition). Recent work appears in Rattle, The Poetry Review (UK), RHINO, The Greensboro Review, Rust + Moth, Terrain.org, On the Seawall, Solstice, Nimrod International Journal, and elsewhere. Myers lives in Seattle, where he’s editor of the journal Bracken.