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Grant Clauser


Elegy for a Turkey Vulture


We find the buzzard broken,

caught in wreckage

a flood surrendered

to the rotten groin of a tree.


When I touch his neck

a score of lice scurries

under oily quills.

In his eyes, the innards

of possums, the brains of fish.

His rending beak chipped

into a Lutheran frown.


We’ve seen them kettling

hungry above the hemlocks

on Devil’s Half Acre hill,

scouting for lost things

like an undertaker

at a church picnic.


When everything’s over,

is it also forgiven?

Buzzards treat all meat

equally, all sins

sour at the same rate.


When it pulls its head

from a bloodied belly

do griefs cling the sloped 

shoulders, the wishbone prayer

of its chest, the shadow

we fear overhead?


Overhead more buzzards

swagger the lazy thermals

spotting what the river

left behind. We leave

the body to its brethren

and the only ritual they know.

Grant Clauser

Grant Clauser lives in Pennsylvania and works as an editor, writer and teacher. He is the author of the books Reckless Constellations, The Magician's Handbook, Necessary Myths and The Trouble with Rivers. Poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, Cortland Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Poet Lore, Southern Poetry Review, Tar River Poetry and others. He is on Twitter at @uniambic.

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