“Canada Geese,” “Boat Hull, Moving Party in a Small Town” and “Crows”

Canada Geese

Feet splayed, leather between toes,

black claws meant for pedestrian tasks,

you meet me with your mate in the office parking lot.

Though there’s something regal in your head held high,

I’ve seen you eating grass on suburban lawns,

your hungry bill opening and closing as I approach,

greeting me like you were my pet.

Once I watched you overhead, migrating spring and fall,

symbol of everything wild I loved

as a boy pushed toward an artificial world.

Now the comfort of retention ponds, of parks and city heat,

has erased your need to cross those distances,

the magnet sky of yours still lit with guiding lines and fluxes.

Even those of us who welcome you

notice how you’ve swelled in numbers,

how you stop the traffic

as you trundle across these busy streets

as though they belong to you.

Many others loathe what you’ve become,

look at you as some king size pigeon,

another pest dug in to stay and complicate our crude ballet.

How you watch me so directly with those black pearl eyes

when I reach to touch you, to rub your head

with a loving finger – you snap your beak,

your pink tongue wagging,

and remind me that your distant kin

were brontosaurus and T-rex,

warning me away with your baby dragon’s hiss.

Boat Hull, Moving Party in a Small Town

It lifts off supports that have held it

since the dream lit on paper,

charming time from father and son,

now years and their secret kept hidden

from the town until the invitation,

word of mouth and flyers stuck

in all the right places.

It is heavy but not the way we thought,

keel slicing dim air inside the barn as it moves,

door sliding open to the bright afternoon

and the volleyball net, the silver kegs,

the loaded picnic tables and barbeque grills,

a party until now. We are ancient again,

linked by this burden, our strength together

enough to flip the boat onto the trailer,

no deck or cabin yet, no masts, no wheel

or rudder to steer into the purest stretch of sea;

we have only that horizon we imagine,

our mistakes and regrets dwindling fast behind us,

every future ideal as we all step back and applaud.


“They’re out to protect their family and their neighborhood and they don’t do anything alone or quietly. They’re more like people than any other animal on earth” – Dr. Kevin McGowan

I am watched, running trails

through disturbed territory.

They do not know my name

but my shape and intent

have been transferred

through the treetops

by their harsh vocabulary,

passing me on

from station to station,

wary and wise

from hawks and owls

and armed men who think

in terms of thieves.

Back at the lot,

mine is the only car,

but I see them already gather

on the low branches

wishing me gone.

I open the trunk

and from the grocery sack

pay toll for my passage

with bread and berries.

About the Author

Steve Brammell

Steve Brammell's short fiction and non-fiction have appeared in Alabama Magazine, Birmingham Magazine, RavensPerch, Northwest Indiana Literary Journal, White Wall Review, The Tiny Seed Literary Journal, The Write Launch, Flying Island Journal, Cathexis Northwest Press, Toho Journal and The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature. Finishing Line Press recently published his book of short stories, Red Mountain Cut. He is a graduate of Wabash College and a member of the Indiana Writers Center, and has also enjoyed a parallel career in the restaurant and wine business for the past 25 years. He lives in Indianapolis.