Today's poem is by Dolores Hayden

Target Practice

Crotophaga ani, local names in the West Indies:
Long-Tailed Crow, Tick-Bird, Merle Corbeau,
Garrapetéro (Trickster), Black Daw (Black Slut), Black Witch,
Bouts-Tabac, Bilbitin (Cigarette Butt), Juif or Judío (Jew)

Look for Long-Tailed Crow,
drawling weu-ik, weu-ik.
Dark as lumpy coal,

Ani picks ticks, flies
flap, glide, flap, glide, flap, glide.
Big-billed, gawky, slow,

Tick-Bird steals from gardens.
Workers stuff straw dummies,
stone her, Merle Corbeau!

Market women bustle
broomsticks, shoo her, Scat,
Garrapetéro! Go!

Dockers spit, Bilbitin,
Bouts-Tabac, va t'on!
Black Daw, Black Witch—yo!

Listen: on these islands,
names peck and pick on
one black so-and-so,

brand this bird as Jew or
female, curse at slut or
butt when crops don't grow.

Maybe hate's a kind of
weather. Cyclones clock top
speeds here, tin roofs blow,

nothing stops their rain-filled
rush across the humid

nothing cheeks their ripping
torrents, tearing circles,
counterclockwise flow.

There's no rainbow. Nesting
in low hedges where blue
heaps of eggs just show,

Ani's near the church's
pasture, grooming very
skinny cattle, so

busy picking ticks.
Boy blasts flock, Judío!
kills a Long-Tailed Crow.

Copyright © 2003 Dolores Hayden All rights reserved
from Kenyon Review

Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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