Fiction   Essays   Poetry  The Ten On Baseball Chapbooks In Memory

Dennis Mahagin

Crazy-Ass Grackles

You can hear them singing in the white-hot
phosphorous spotlight of streetlamps and moonglow
splashing the high branches, having entirely too much
fun again already after ten on a weeknight, and they go off

sexing each other up with their funky ambient mate calls
like Flipper the dolphin and friends stutter-squeaking
for supper buckets of herring and kipper out past
the game warden’s dock -- like yakking tropical macaques
drunk on fermented mango mush, having a pool party
in a rice paddy...

“My God,” my good friend groans, and sits up in the bed,
chewing on lower lip, chagrined and stiff-chinned:

“Can’t we call Audobon, John? I mean, can’t something be done?
These fucking birds they are completely out of control...”

“Relax...Take a Xanax, girl” I offer. “Maybe try those
ear plugs they worked the last time.”

I know how she feels, though in truth it’s not really that
bad of a racket. What gets under her skin isn’t the volume,
but rather something in the Voice Itself -- a peal of autistic
nymph-and-prince laughter at once exhorting and denouncing
the streetside eavesdropper who sniffs patchouli, woodsmoke
and soft murmurs from laurel-swallowed patios, wanting
those wind chimes and water music, for oneself, once
again wishing it all back.

That sound -- part mock, part pep talk -- it strums
a barre chord of wonder on the buzzing cervical frets
of my neck, feeding back to the brainstem a dizzy-blues
lick and promise of more mediocre major league shortstops
making a million dollars a month, while I drag my sorry ass
up for work every morning.

“It’s just that something really
ought to be done,” she says... “Hon?”

“Shhhh, I want to hear...”

Yes, the crazy-ass grackles of southern Nevada
will win you over in time “You need to really watch them
during the day” I explain to her -- their cocky-but-wobbly
strut, like hungover jazz musicians shuffling to breakfast
in too-big Beatle boots and no socks, long silken inky
tuxedo tails brush-drumming the lawn as they bob and weave,
hunt and peck...

At dawn I watch one, sweet black lacquered sleekness with
opal inlay streaks on beak and back. It swaggers around
the pine cone trunk of a big palm -- super model stalking
a hall of mirrors, little onyx head nodding to a headphone
backbeat and bassline bubbling up
from the irrigated root system
just for her.

Soon enough she spots me coming off the porch, waves
bye bye with blue-silver irridescent wink of wing blur,
and makes that noise again...a hundred popped helium balloons
released from the home team dugout at the crack of bat, and she
is a whistling line drive rising for the rooftops, black dot
cinema jump cut, into the pink horizon
and gone.

“Oh my,” I cry out, raising my hand
in a slow, shaky sun glare salute:

Sweet Insouciance Of Youth!

So Long.

©2003 by Dennis Mahagin

Dennis Mahagin is a musician and writer currently residing in Las Vegas, Nevada. His work has recently appeared online in Stirring, Twelfth Planet, and Alchemy, as well as the print journal, The Temple. He is currently at work on a chapbook of poems.

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