Post Road Magazine #7

A Confederacy by David Daniel

A butcher bird sings by the flooded Nigger Flat
Along the shore of Friendship, Texas, where once,
On the iron bridge of Willis Creek, bullboys
Throttled up their trucks to celebrate
The one sad fuck worse off that night than them:
The beaten, black head lolled like a lantern.

At first just looking on, God cocked his head
Toward the faint chatter of satellites beyond,
Then, listening, stepped into the black body of man:
And the light from that body turned them, finally, all to ash:
Such were the miracles of America in those days.

These days, after the dam, the bridge is ruined,
And the cottonmouths hanging from limbs
Over the creek's steep chasm have wandered on.
We watch the sun slip down, and when the butcher bird
Shrieks, a silence follows, a tightening in the dusk.

In the lone mesquite within the canebrake
The litter of bird's prey dangles on its thorns:
Before us the paling sky slumps onto the still, unrivered water •

David Daniel is the poetry editor of Ploughshares and a songwriter. His book, Seven-Star Bird, is forthcoming any day now from Graywolf Press. He will be touring the country promoting both the book and a cd for most of 2004.

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