Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Poem #9 of 365

I stepped onto my front stoop
and voices called to me
from a porch on the other side:

"Is this your cat? It's friendly!"

I paused my thinking, squinted
at the fur in the distance, and
they offered, "It's wearing a collar."

No, my cat wears no collar, i told
them, and swinging my gaze to
the north down the street, i noticed
two hens pecking away.

"Are those your chickens!?"

Those are vultures, there are three,
my neighbors explained.
And, to my amazement, i peeled
my eyes better and indeed saw
carnivorous birds on the street.

Doggedly, they worked at fresh carcass,
the small furry corpus of a black alley cat.
When an auto swooped down their way,
they took flight, showing wingspans of
at least my own height.

They flew around, encircling this historic
barrio, casting elongated shadows upon
rooftops, sidewalks, smaller animals.

I twitched a little, braced myself on the
neighbor’s porch, wondering what coat of
symbolic meaning to paint upon this sight.
Carnivorous birds upon my street,
making banquet in destruction.

There are two empty holes a little further down,
and the disembowelment happens largely at
night. There used to be houses where
the big holes gape, pecked and disappeared
by unflinching machines. My little barrio is getting
its body devoured and the ones who make this happen
do not meet my eyes with theirs. I do not know how to
stop them, arrest their shadows darkening my ‘hood.

Twice, I tried to photograph the vultures
as they flew over the house across the street,
but their paths were jagged, unpredictable.
Developers and destroyers, urban and
unaccountable, become singleminded
when those of us below are afraid even in the light of day.

[We need more paved lots, yah, right. We need high-density, upper-income housing, oh, really. Will the barrio survive?]

copyright 2007 tammy melody gomez

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