The Crows Start Demanding Royalties

By Lucia Perillo


Of all the birds, they are the ones
who mind their being armless most:
witness how, when they walk, their heads jerk
back and forth like rifle bolts.
How they heave their shoulders into each stride
as if they hoped that by some chance
new bones there would come popping out
with a boxing glove on the end of each.
Little Elvises, the hairdo slicked
with too much grease, they convene on my lawn
to strategize for their class-action suit.
Flight they would trade in a New York minute
for a black muscle car and a fist on the shift
at any stale green light. But here in my yard
by the Jack-in-the-Box Dumpster
they can only fossick* in the grass for remnants
of the world’s stale buns. And this
despite all the crow poems that have been written
because men like to see themselves as crows
(the head-jerk performed in the rearview mirror,
the dark brow commanding the rainy weather).
So I think I know how they must feel:
ripped off, shook down, taken to the cleaners.
What they’d like to do now is smash a phone against a wall.
But they can’t, so each one flies to a bare branch and screams.


*intransitive verb
1. Australian & New Zealand : to search for gold or gemstones typically by picking over abandoned workings
2. chiefly Australian & New Zealand : to search about : rummage

transitive verb chiefly Australian & New Zealand : to search for by or as if by rummaging : ferret out

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