21st Century Blackbirds

flock of blackbirds

I
What is that black bird?
In my homeland,
we ate the last songbird a thousand years ago.

II
In our flooded suburb
we have many seagulls.
I have a blackbird in a cage.

III
My cousins from the coast
wake with the birds and smile:
No sea to fear.

IV
Our town has welcomed more than 100 refugees this year.
They don’t know the names for things.
They get all the birds wrong.

V
It is cold here.
I am glad to have a safe home,
but don’t the birds feel naked
in those bare trees?

VI
Wasilla is quieter now
birds circle vacant houses
sinking into melted soil.

VII
Dense willow boughs,
once shelter for birds,
now break the waves
and fish spawn safely there.

VIII
When smallpox returned
birds again filled the skies
above un-harvested fields.

IX
Our neighborhood cats
spend all night out on limbs
hunting transgenic birds.
They’re easy to spot.

X
Birds come to the feeder
push millet seeds onto the ground
and refuse to eat.

XI
The drones endanger the birds.
The birds endanger the drones.

XII
We like to hunt:
birds, squirrels, deer.
Some are poison.

XIII
Birds, cars, trains,
children speaking one hundred languages:
the sounds of North Dakota.

Image CC-BY by Mike Baird

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