augury for the beginning of one of the coldest januaries in living record

the day we left dad’s, snow
ghosted down across the back deck,
slowly painting the grey wood
white. swaying heavy
on skinny limbs overhead, vulture after
vulture fixed a black stare out
into the yard at some death,
some dying we couldn’t see.
no thrashing of a creature in pain,
no blood, no movement:
all we saw was the rust of dead leaves,
the bony outlines of oaks at the end
of another long year. and still
they sat, and still more came, and sat,
and waited. at least 20, 30, their backs to us
as we looked up, and wondered,
as we loaded the car and drove away slow.

augury, in the strictest sense

we walk through thunder,
and there are drawn stormclouds

across your cheeks, brow; like train-
tracks to nowhere, and i’ll hop

the next boxcar, simple as un-
wanting, follow it til i find

the sun buried in your irides.
this metaphor is a railroad:

straight, the slow
unraveling of sudden horizons.

a friend tells me
the story of the red-

tail hawk attacked
sequentially by two crows

and a mockingbird. i
wonder if it’s because they know

jealousy like you do, see its predatory
threat atop every lamppost and

telephone pole.
raindrops like fat clay pigeons hiss

against rusted rails, tear-on-trestle,
black-feathered bullets of omen:

where will you be
when the lightning comes down?