KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 8: August 2017
Poem: 497 words [R]


by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois
I’m an Animal Control Specialist
a special kind
I don’t capture feral cats
or snarling dogs
don’t deal with skunks
or live critters of any kind

I pick up dead birds at the base of wind turbines
and put them in plastic sacks

I sometimes see the
moment of impact
when flight and life simultaneously cease
Once I caught an eagle as it plummeted to earth
I didn’t know what to do with it
On impulse I hugged and kissed it goodbye
then felt stupid
was glad no one was there to see

I never knew birds were so intent on their destinations
so obsessive-compulsive and unaware
I’ve seen them swerve mid-air to avoid my car’s bumper
but up in the sky five-hundred feet
they don’t expect cars

They get into a rhythm of flight
in which their blood assumes
that the elevations are free of
obstacles’ strife
but blades express their evil intent
by spinning

I live within the perimeters of this “wind farm”
in my old family farmhouse
Many of these farmhouses have tumbled down
More will tumble as people escape
the noise and flicker
and the weird unexpected symptoms they bring
the pressure in the ears
dizziness and nausea
the inability to concentrate
I can go on
but part of my contract is that I can’t talk about it
can’t even mention it

So just forget it
You didn’t hear it from me

No one will buy these fucking houses
They are as damned as if they’d been erected
in a Stephen King novel

My grandfather used to sit on the front porch
and listen to birdsong
and he’d say to me: Did you hear that?
Do you know who that is?
as if the bird were a human being I’d met
an uncle or aunt
whose voice I should recognize

Jays, chickadees, robins, red-winged blackbirds
I don’t hear them anymore
can’t hear them through the constant loud drone
of turbine acoustic pollution
the whirring blades
the grinding gears

But I make my living picking up the dead birds
I pluck the feathers
before I dispose of them
and store them in old shoe boxes
in my grandfather’s office
where he wrote poems and published them in farm journals
under the pen name Al Falfa

I know I’m crazy, but I think maybe my dead grandpa
runs his hands through those loose feathers at night
the loose feathers of dead birds
whose ancestors he lived with

You might think my job is not full-time
but it is
because my boss at Consumer’s Energy
wants the birds gone
as soon as they hit the ground
if possible
He doesn’t want them laying around
for the anti-windmill photographers
to document
so all day I’m driving my rattle-trap Mazda pick-up
from one end of the township to the other

I grew up here
lived here all my life
but I never knew the place
“like the back of my hand”
until I followed Death around


—Published previously in Blue Hour Magazine (19 January 2013); appears here with author’s permission

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