Standing By

Like time incarnate, grackles feast
from paper plates of picnic scraps

on the hill, quibbling over who gets what,
before the rumble of a battered old


Ford pick-up shocks them out of
complacency. A gray sky salivates

on the afternoon as the flock descends on the parking lot next

door, fighting with gulls, pecking
the eyes from the earth in

McDonald’s wrapper form. As the wind clicks a cadence on a rusty G3 sign,

I watch LCD stick figures stack themselves into
markers along the river, reminding

us where the banks became a light snack for the water, reminding

me that I am an awkward two-step to an old Hank Williams tune,

denim and naugahyde, wood and bricks,
cats and dogs. And then the car

door opens, the electronic chime
warning of glass and pavement,

mingled together with flesh and bone. An old Benny Goodman tune

charms the engine like a snake
and the next couplet begins to write itself.

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