We gave the magpies popcorn.
They asked for that movie house buttery oil to be added.
They asked to come in and watch Hitchcock’s The Birds.
They asked God to go on the warpath
so there would be enough carrion on the ground
for themselves and all their corvid relatives.
At the snow sparkled cemetery
other magpies sorted the dead white men
from the dead brown men
from the dead red men
and debated on which tasted better,
then pretended I did not overhear them
as I did a rubbing of a marble relief carving
in some railroad executive’s ornate headstone.
One magpie recited passages of Dharma Bums
from the lowest branch of an alder tree
with “my mother is now a Gutenberg bible”
carved in its bark and I thought
better that than a Sears catalog
or the splintery seat to a centuries old outhouse.
Dora soaked in the monastic testimony
of a waining moon rising above the townscape.
The magpies never strayed too far from her
when they felt broken hearted.
We gave the magpies all the reruns of Big Bird
in his Sesame Street years.
They asked for our inheritance of Grandmother’s collection
of S&H Green Stamps books.
They asked for a replica of the sign that say Sanders
over Winnie the Pooh’s doorway.
They ask for flu shots to protect them
from the West Nile and Zika viruses,
so they don’t drop out of the sky unnoticed.
About the Author
“Magpies are one of my favorite birds and I have a surrealist’s imaginative mind.”
Kenneth P. Gurney lives in Albuquerque, NM, USA with his beloved Dianne. His latest collection of poems is Stump Speech (2015). He runs the poetry blog Watermelon Isotope. His personal website is at kpgurney.me.
About the Illustrator
Jenn Lambert illustrates fine detail ink drawings using traditional techniques. She lives and works in Soho London and has a background in Film production. For inquiries please get in touch via Instagram.
Magpies is one of the many amazing poems from the upcoming fourth edition of the literary collection The Machinery.
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