“The Late Mr. Crowbait” by Louis Daniel Brodsky

Louis Daniel Brodsky


On a frigid Saturday morning in late January,
He stepped outside his first yawn,
Into a cerulean translucency
Enshrouding a dilatory moon left in dawn’s wake,
And realized that he, too, was late for something.

What that might be
He hoped to ascertain before too long,
So that no great life-changes
Would take him by surprise, render him impotent.
He believed in being prepared for contingencies.

But he’d been late before,
With no grave consequences complicating his existence,
Late to funerals, births, baptisms, wakes,
Late to weddings, graduations, concerts, plays,
Late to judgment days, resurrections.

Why this a.m. should be so dismaying
Escaped his powers of concentration, imagination.
He was frightened like never before.
Suddenly, he found himself surrounded
By a circle of oversize crows,

A whole family, tribe, nation of black birds
Slowly devouring the distance between them and him,
As if tightening a noose about his neck,
Stifling his breath, his spirit’s will to be,
His instincts for fight or flight.

Then the crows backed off, scattered,
Lifted en masse—thousands of tattered feathers
Fluttering earthward like masks of tragedy,
Burying his terrified stare in bloody blackness—
As they carried away his late remains.

from Rattle #22, Winter 2004

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