Black-bellied Whistling Ducks

Hugh Behm-Steinberg

We call it risen it won’t rise. Dipping the stroke of the flywheel, the smoke.

The runoff, seawater filtered through whales that is my shadow I brighten.

I turn but I’m not a wheel. I’m not that guy with his mouth full of fish I got pink legs

I don’t live in boring world I know decades of weaponized water I perch in trees.

You have to be long-legged, long-necked and the most erect of ducks these days.

Wear a black belly with a chestnut nape. A chestnut cap on your head, a white eye ring.

The place I’m from is where I’ll stop going and the tourist board of my home

will not mention we come from there; they’ll send out brochures they’ll say

come visit now like extinct birds they won’t always stay gone all of my rifles

are freely licensed and fire nothing but luck or that’s how we perceive the world.

We oblige the erasures, reality exaggerates what’s missing but it snaps back to

what it already is, an opening that’s still opening, an opening ducks fly through.

I don’t believe no one needs me in this world. Common but wary, fond of hanging out

on golf courses, watching one another, the golfers and their carts, it’s not hopeless

you won’t be separate. So glad to still have a body, I put my hand anywhere

I want to and you won’t tell me to stop. All rules release us. Vociferous in flight.

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