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everywhere a magpie

Jill Alexander Essbaum

          One for sorrow, two for mirth, three for a wedding, four for death.
                               …traditional country proverb

the magpie he kept unslept for five or six years
          the magpie who circled the ruin of his stone-cobbled square
the magpie who squared his circles without any compass
          the magpie whose whiplash tongue he never grew tired of
the magpie alit on the roof of his second wife’s cottage
          the magpie who soared in a sky pricked sore by spires
the magpie so fond of the shine that she clung to his switchblade
          the magpie he sloughed like a snake’s winter skin in the springtime
the magpie pragmatic who kept her own name on the house note
          the magpie who fashioned their nest out of paper and birch bark
the magpie who leapt to her death from an interstate overpass
          the magpie he dressed in furs from his great aunt’s travel trunk
the magpie whose silks got caught in the spokes of his tires
          the magpie who, tired of his sulking, went out with the raven
the magpie who, toying his rifle went out with a bang
          the magpie who swooped when she ought to have stayed on her perch
the magpie who slept at the foot of his fold-out sofa bed
          the magpie who bled and bled and bled and bled

Jill Alexander Essbaum

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Author Discusses Poems