by Sam Barbee
− for that which is conceived in her
is of the Holy Ghost.
The turkey vulture straddles the centerline,
reckless, dissecting another petty death.
Wings flap wide above random meat –
rabbit, reed rat, opossum, even a cousin –
the interstate’s broken yellow line hinges
rancid entrails gingered with breeze.
Fur fluffed in wind-drift, or gory pilus feathers
ruffled, fervor plateaus in a life’s fading scent.
Nobility flattened, piston’s impact cleansed
final breath, released a prayer, now hailed
as the least-important wheeze. Carrion
once-muscled like Job’s will, holy sinew
baptized in swamp gospel. Evoked demise
delivered head-on by galvanized crown
and radials’ purr speeding home. Ahead of worms,
the dead distend, abandoned to lard freeway until dust,
long after Matthew’s bluster and backwater surge.
The predator, erect above history, spans
a simplified frame, strides back to grass shoulders.
Mechanized clamor reanimates the cold, white moon.
Hazed over, morning sun impersonates a twin moon:
size and shape, sizzle and gristle, duplicates dangling
like baby booties over a rearview mirror.
Nubbed pines rustle, limbs vanquished at the trunk,
cones cast like lots, barbed and indiscriminate.
The concrete roars with other bloody confessions
left by carcasses yanked roadside. Teeth and bone
remain − smiling, running − charming
tattered forest’s specters to again incite their rage of flies.
− October 2016
Sam Barbee’s poems have appeared in Poetry South, The NC Literary Review, Crucible, Asheville Poetry Review, Main Street Rag and The Southern Poetry Anthology VII: North Carolina, plus online journals Vox Poetica, Pyrokinection and The Blue Hour. His Second poetry collection, That Rain We Needed (2016, Press 53), was a nominee for the Roanoke-Chowan Award as one of North Carolina’s best poetry collections of 2016. He is the current president of the North Carolina Poetry Society.