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Looking up in downtown Los Angeles

Three Poems by Sharon Tracey

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Outside the Staples Center in Downtown Los Angeles

Ravens fly over the skyscrapers, cutting
the blue above S. Figueroa Street
and you want to know what they see
from that vantage point, what they eat,
whether rats are scurrying where the helicopters
land. I look around for green to touch beneath
the gleaming, beyond the people on the streets.
What reason for the inequality of days?
The ravens reel in loopy circles thirty stories
high. A monstrous crane slowly lowers
a row of men down the side of a skyscraper
to clean its eyes, the glass as bluish-green
as the sea, the air washed with the sounds
of sirens a mile away, the homeless returning.

 

 

An early hour is a good hour

In the cold dawn, the cottontails have emptied themselves
from the dense thicket of Russian olives
lining the driveway.

They race into the headlights
then freeze
like dewdrops on grass tips,
chopping the quiet up.

I stop so they can finish
what they’ve started.

An early hour is a good hour
to talk to cottontails
and ask why god has made
some perfect.

I study their grey rabbit faces,
their eyes sent to the sides
of their heads

their coats and soft napes,
their lack of pretense.

I consider the habits we each have formed
for early morning, overlapping
in our orbits
our daily rituals
pausing and repeating
in the half-light of dawn

repetition a key
that opens a door.

 

 

To All the Starlings

            To all the starlings making murmurations
       above us, across sky-beams, yawning blue-shafts
  exchanging air for feathers as if one organism,
        to all the horses and other odd-toed ungulates
    corralled or caught or pushed off stamps
of land, to all the cetaceans and crustaceans
      traveling the oceans, beached or taken to a lab,
    to all the chickens, pigs and other domestics,
the salmon and the sturgeon and other bony fish,
    to all the wildcats in the world, to all the ants
        of industry, to all egg-laying queens
   washing themselves clean in moth light
to the last red wolf and all the dogs—

I take note, murmuring my admiration.

If existence is the exchange is the music
   is the water flowing down the light it catches
     is the dripping of the sounds in evening gutters
if we are open and aware of all the others
   if the exchange is the music is the stars exploding—

	starlings  starlings  starlings  starlings  starlings  starlings                starlings	starlings  starlings  starlings  starlings  starlings              starlings  starlings  starlings   starlings  starlings  starlings  starlings            starlings   starlings  starlings starlings   starlings starlings starlings starlings 	 starlings   starlings starlings starlings starlings starlings starlings starlings 	   starlings starlings starlings starlings starlings starlings  starlings  starlings 	        starlings starlings starlings starlings starlings starlings starlings 		 starlings starlings starlings starlings starlings starlings    		    starlings starlings starlings starlings starlings 			     starlings starlings starlings  			         	 starlings starlings  				                starlings

 

 

 

Sharon TraceySharon Tracey is the author of two full-length poetry collections, Chroma: Five Centuries of Women Artists (Shanti Arts Publishing, 2020) and What I Remember Most Is Everything (All Caps Publishing, 2017). Her poems have appeared in The Worcester Review, Mom Egg Review, Tule Review, The Ekphrastic Review, and elsewhere. She previously served as an environmental program director and communications director at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Find her at sharontracey.com.

Header photo of downtown Los Angeles by Gabriele Maltinti, courtesy Shutterstock.

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