Why I Must Fly



An owl calls and I turn my head

as branches of an old cottonwood

creak and moan threatening rupture

and collapse onto the riverbank

where I have come to dig for the family jewels

buried long before my birth buried wholly

in the rocky soil that turns ankles and minds

toward the smooth hills of Paradise cattle graze

like gravity-bound angels feeding on manna and nectar

a diet of steadily chewed grain or let us say cud

but even demeaned the delicacy builds bodies

something angels need not bother with something

we cannot conquer or subdue this side of the grave


An owl calls and I stir the embers of my paltry fire

it threatens to singe the fringe of my Plains jacket

presented to me by the buffalo shaman who foretold

the end of migrant life the end of all life for the keepers

of this land I drop my head in shame but wonder

which piece of the prairie I may preserve and own

first for my pleasure then for the joy of generations to come

every life is bound to the promise of unity with the All

the first and last the alpha and omega the cycle

of beginning and end of restarting and hope the current

of the years carrying us away into the netherworld

of the unknown


An owl calls and I marvel as its long lithe wings

flap toward me aimed directly at my head the target

of this hunter of humanity this oligarch of the darkening

skies guided by eyesight not bound by gravity or doubt

but suited perfectly to the hunt and its tireless pursuit

of prey unwary unwitting innocents ready to be swooped

into the strata of fog that settles on the flat farmland I work

and work into a facsimile of an organic mill of vegetables

and fruits nourishment for body and soul if it needs

to eat to survive which it does not and the owl knows

how one flies with the other how the moon turns the screws

of anxiety and fear into desire for fleshy delights only perfect

flight can reassure the living only dead-on eyes can see whats next

wide enough to weigh the world sharp enough to dissect tall

grasses hopeful enough to show me I must fly for prey or die

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