These Songbirds Left Behind

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Contributor: John Grey

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Too late, sub-zero is upon them.
Feathers, wings, screech silent.
Beaks chatter in flight.
All these songbirds have is wildness and instinct.
No use in frozen sky, the seasons' hindmost.
Like bats, they long to cozy up in caves.
Like frogs, ache to be mud-packed for the season,
pond-buried, slowing their heart down to survival pace.
The tuneless blue-jay has no sweet song to protect,
fluffs up as snow falls, wind blows.
Woodpeckers hammer the hardest bark
for hordes of mummified insects.
Chickadees chip on frozen berries.
Nuthatches skate down icy bark.
Starlings forage in splintery grass for hayseed.
The songbirds find flimsy reprieve under drifts,
chirp a brittle soundtrack to their own starvation.
An unwitting, unwanted, fast has begun.
No warble when they're stark against the landscape.
Their souls fly south but birds remain,
all beauty, no sustenance.
On high, bare branch, crows are undertakers.
At ground level, they're graves.

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John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, Perceptions and the anthology, No Achilles with work upcoming in Big Muddy Review, Gargoyle, Coal City Review and Nebo.


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