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Poetry and Medicine
September 24, 2008


Author Affiliations

Poetry and Medicine Section Editor: Charlene Breedlove, Associate Editor. Poems may be submitted to jamapoems@jama-archives.org.

JAMA. 2008;300(12):1390. doi:10.1001/jama.300.12.1390

How many grackles live in the ceiling
above my room? As a rule, the deadbeats
are not communal, but the skitterings
that threaten my refuge are surely
the makings of more than one ruffian bird
and her brood. Those muscle-bound grackles
bully the five or six acres of woods
in back of the house still allowed to exist
as long as the county authority
owns them. Those dive-bombing terrorists,
out of the garbage and into their own
waste, their own niche in my consciousness,
those birds are insouciant and alien
to the big picture and good intentions
and the virtue of discipline. Those grackles
have spattered the space above my room,
reminding me how vulnerable I am.

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