holY rattlesnakes

Andrew Michael Roberts

overhead, an echelon
of crows

sweeps noiselessly past,

claws all

curled up
into eloquent fists.

perhaps one of
their luminaries

has passed
after a long
and difficult disease,

and they are

and there is more
to the world

than we insist.


i am remembering
an afternoon
in 1985

when i with a
shovel head

and my brother with
his two-by-four

slaughtered all
the squabs in the coop,

who gawked up
at us with gaping mouths,

believing we
had a meal in our beaks,

while with a

our father dispatched
the crazed adults,

because he was sick
of their song

and we needed the space
for more edible beings.


what if the afterlife
is all of our mistakes

waiting up for us
in white frocks

at a picnic
in a clovered field

whose edges are
glowy and blurred,

and all we need do
is sit among them

and that tantalizing feast,
and touch nothing.


there were
periodic toolshed fires.

i recall the
arced blur

of space one
belt-width thick

the glorious
face of motherous rage

and the backs
of my brother's

legs beginning
to bead

with blood,
the leather's

spongy edge

and having
no idea

he'd set things
on fire just

to get to this
to keep

me clean.


'what can we do,'
he once
whispered to me

like a sage
through the bunk-bed slats,

'but now and then
get down on
crooked bones

and pray our
crooked prayers,

and be thankful for
the drunken angels

watching over us.'