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Eleanor Paynter


Listen to Eleanor Paynter read "If We Were Augurs"

If We Were Augurs

we’d know whether to read the starlings’
smoke plume or the sky
lifted on their backs, its weight

ribboned up from concrete busts,
umbrella pines. The flock smooths

into sphere, sea, a galaxy
of faint calls. And we marvel,

Impossible to know
the precise mistake before it happens.

At least two dozen people cross the square.
Cinema lights come on. Less wind
and the hum of bus motors

readying. Unfathomable dimensions
of flight. It will please the gods—as the last blue,

unburnt and unforeboding, escapes
with the swarm—or What you’re about to do,
don’t. At the tips of their wings

swirl tornadoes. Their eyes
see two halves of a world.



Listen to Eleanor Paynter read "Twilight-Automatic:"


                      then gone.

A kind of sudden swathes the whole circumference.

Windows become walls, leaves meld into treetops,
starlings turn silhouettes.

We used to sit on the bench outside the cinema, watching them swirl.

The sky deepens from shadow-box to black.

Evening, like a pistol, has done its damage:
then a seeping.



Eleanor Paynter has roots in Texas, Rome, and New York, and holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College. Her poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in A capella Zoo, Nimrod, Quiddity, and Thrush; and as honorable mention in the 2011 Winning Writers War Poetry contest. Her chapbook is forthcoming from Toadlily Press. She lives in the Netherlands.
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