At what must seem to them the “appointed time,”
Great numbers of turkey vultures arrive,
To occupy only the highest boughs of the tallest trees
Where everything below exists to serve their repast and repose,
The stray cats, the scampering squirrels, the pigeons and the voles.
Mighty in their size, fearsome in their fixed gaze,
Swooping and sweeping with their massive, wide wings
Each edged like a serrated blade, and those talons
As sharp as their sight, boasting a beak for a nose,
Pity the cats and squirrels, the pigeons and the voles.
Here, the lesser breeds are but vagrant beggars,
Poaching their subsistence from their larger neighbors,
Trespassers, debtors in a might makes right domain.
Take no prisoners, all each turkey knows, each a Kurtz
Exterminating the brutes: cats, squirrels, pigeons, and voles.
Nature’s grace: there such an occupation lasts only one short season,
Ergo each lesser breed’s good reason, to each species its own hope.
Turkey vultures, one day, all take to wing, what’s left can then regain
The terrain each instinctively know is theirs, even the crows,
Restoring the balance of cats and squirrels, pigeons, and voles.
~ Charles Peek
Kearney, Nebraska, April 4, 2017
Charles Peek blogs, writes, and protests from Kearney, Nebraska. His Breezes on the Way to Being Winds won the 2016 Nebraska Award for Poetry. Together with his wife, Nancy, he spends a good deal of time trying to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline form ruining Nebraska’s land, water, and culture.
Pat Daneman has published poems and short fiction in many print and on-line journals. Her most recent work appears in the anthology New Poetry from the Midwest, Moon City Review, Stonecoast Review, Comstock Review and Bellevue Literary Review. Her chapbook, Where the World Begins, was published in 2015 by Finishing Line Press. After All, her first full-length poetry collection will be published in 2018 by FutureCycle Press.