Grampa in his starched shirt tossed it in the trunk of the sedan.
We are going to scare your mother.
I was thinking even buzzard babies are cute
nestling in broken eggshell, hay and twigs,
purple yarn, maybe bear hair.
Then of a buzzard streaking it’s feathers
with human child,
maybe I was lost in the woods,
regurgitated half-digested into their
offspring’s snapping beaks.
Pa crucified the buzzard,
wings nailed to the barn, an eye missing,
bald head sagging as if in prayer for the end of us.
How many piles of our bones
has a satisfied buzzard flapped away from?
Indeed Mom screamed like she’d seen Death.
Do buzzards become cannibals when a buzzard becomes carrion?
Wouldn’t sweet decomposition be a gift?
The buzzard answered,
Burial is not buzzard tradition,
each body is an offering,
the descending swirl of kin is
our kind is only beautiful at a distance,
let me see us soaring one last time.
Pa was inside the house with a crossword,
Mom fixing dinner.
My father dropped the carcass in a garbage bag
and I think it went to the dump.
Some small soldier academics thought
they could alter earth and made me
but now I reroute the wind
collect every drop of rain
and mountain stream
like meteor dust
the trees standing at attention
their beasts drawn
by the inner magnetism of thirst
I am no lady
I lap up your spilt beer and urine
swallow your skipping rocks and oars
hear you quietly hump in your tents
caress you myself as you swim me
naked by starlight
And that’s no beach bod
it was made for a lake
Here is my gift in return
a few more feet of shore
I match the aqua green
sky blue of your irises
cure your hangovers
all you need is a rope swing
or a floaty- wedding ring,
flamingo, pizza slice
lose your mind a little
quiet the tyrant in your head
emerge with precision of purpose
And if it is with mud behind your ears
It’s because I was whispering
the secrets of the drowned and living
the forest would rather mute
carried by my stillness
campfire to campfire
each imagining the other more lost
but they are the same troubles
a bit of untruth making every story realer
Or I sing to you
the syllables of thunder
waves smack shale
a cicada scream
All this you will dream when you’re gone
The dam cracks and I am free
there is no warning mist as
I wash clean every town
along my path
to the sea
Dustin King would always rather be sneaking a bottle of wine into a movie theater for a horror film. For entertainment during quarantine, however, he sat and scribbled and sometimes got excited about what the scribbles became. He teaches Spanish and runs a small non-profit with support programs for the undocumented community in Richmond, Va. He is currently working on a series of ekphrastic poems called “Broken Photos” based on pictures his loved ones forgot to delete from their phones.