Hello, Vagabonds & Homebodies!
Where do you find meaning?
puttering like a
’68 Volkswagen Bus
drone circles the park
We were on the downhill side of the Blue Mountains
descending towards Pendleton when a
starling stunt team put on an air show. These daredevils
knifed through traffic, curving around after crossing
the interstate, climbing up as a single unit, and then
swooping back down towards the careening cars.
I saw the flock flip about on the south side. I slowed
as they sliced through the air right in front of us,
B yelled, the kids startled awake. I hit the brakes and
missed the entire flock
save one bird.
Did you hit it? She asked.
I don’t know, I said.
Nobody said anything else until we stopped
for gas and grub in Pendleton. B and the kids raced into
the Golden Arches oasis to eat and use the bathroom.
I walked around the front of the
van and saw a starling tail and
a wing wedged in the front grill.
I looked around for someone else to pull
the bird out, maybe my dad or uncle.
There was nobody else for the job.
It was a gruesome gig,
dislodging the carcass from the front grill
with discarded newspapers for gloves.
The starling had meant me no harm, and I had killed it.
After I got all the pieces out of the grill, I threw up.
It wasn’t the carnage that had made me sick, although
I did not have the courage to tell anyone
otherwise. It was the senseless death of the graceful bird
on the downhill side of the Blue Mountains. Would anyone
miss the starling? How would the formation
adjust now that the tail had been lost? How do you atone for that?
I looked around, there was nobody else for the job.
It’s a gruesome gig.
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The drone that was circling around Bush Park last week, and making an awful racket, made me think of the starling flock and this incident from ten or fifteen years ago. I wrote the drone haiku on April 24th of this year, and I wrote The Gruesome Gig on November 24, 2020. I didn’t know what to do with this poem until I decided to illustrate and share this haiku. Somehow, I feel the two belong together. I have no idea why my mind linked the drone and the starling. Perhaps it’s because the drone was a military-looking one and that reminds me of death and death in the air is how I now think of starlings. Is there any meaning in these linkages? It’s not for me to say.
Be the poetry you want to see in the world!
you know that starling died doing what he loved.
Starlings are an invasive species too. Not sure if that helps. This is a lovely sentiment and illustration despite the gore. You're a good man!