The grackle leads
her gaggle of offspring
through the door
of the local Walmart;
her skin as leathery
as her knockoff purse,
her ass as wide
as her dirty cart cage
of screaming spawn.
Abandon all hope,
ye who enter here.1
1 Dante, Inferno, Canto III, Line 9
“Birds of Prey”
“Philomela is mutilated…They are transformed into birds.”
-Ovid. Metamorphoses. VI:549-674.
He cut so much of me, ripped
out my voice to silence me.
My secret sorrow shared,
a tale of terror woven
into a gifted tapestry.
Seeking sisterly solace,
swift swallow’s sacrifice
baked a cruel revenge.
A most horrid feast
festering fresh wounds.
Fists shaken at sky
sprout furious wings.
Reborn, we became birds
of night, flying far beyond
. the beastly stars,
Callisto’s cursed constellation.
A family forever divided, and
flung across the heavens
“Broken Wing Act”
Killdeer bird eggs sleep, buried deep
in harsh gravel incubators, beneath
the married shadows of their parents,
silent sentries, standing elegant guard.
The softest sound of approaching threat
finds Father feigning winged injury,
his crooked trickster limp leading,
luring, predators away from his family.
This charade of nature, instinctual,
is called “The Broken Wing Act.”
No greater display of love exists
than self-sacrifice for your child.
V.C. McCabe is a West Virginian poet and music journalist whose workappe ars, or is forthcoming, in Poet Lore, Prairie Schooner, Tar RiverPoetry, Spillway, The Cape Rock, Coldfront, Appalachian Heritage,Appalachian Journal, the Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper TheCharleston Gazette, and elsewhere. She can be found online at vcmccabe.com and @vcmpoetry on Twitter.