Katharyn Howd Machan


They’re getting bigger, you know.
Weighting down the rough-slate rooftop.
Foreheads bulging like rounded mountains
above dead-black eyes that never blink.
Iridescent feathers swelling wide
even though they never stretch in flight
again once their talons set down.

More come every night, you know;
I hear them through my attic ceiling
as they strut and peck and preen.
Once they begin their hell-bright shrieking
we’ll all flee, if we can, of course.
See how the sky’s getting ready for it:
purple, bruising, lost.

Katharyn Howd Machan lives in a small city in central New York State resplendent with gorges and waterfalls and a long lake. Author of 39 published collections of poems–most recently A Slow Bottle of Wine, winner of the 2019 Jessie Bryce Niles Chapbook Competition–she teaches students creative writing in fairy-tale-based courses at Ithaca College.

Backstory:  The poem was inspired by a painting of wildlife in the Adirondacks (Old Forge Library), which produced imagined stories such as this one.

Image credit: Photograph of turkey vultures at Watts Bar Lake near Spring City, Tennessee (John C. Mannone) cropped and processed via prism filters in ToolWiz Photos.

This entry was posted in Poetry. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *