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Sunday, January 05, 2020


by Ann E. Wallace

In Australia, the magpie 
pipers have sounded the alarm. 
Strange singing sirens lure 
us to belated attention,
whistling their learned panic 
cry as we lean in and stare.
How clever they are, these 
crows turned mocking jays,
turned canaries in the fires.

We pull out our phones, press
record and listen in awe 
at beaked imitation of man
made warning calls. Months, 
years after the flares and shouts 
of scientists, of firefighters,
went unseen, unheard, 
the birds learned too 
late to speak our language. 

As the heat swells, billows
to flame, and sucks each breath 
dry, hot angry licks sneer 
and force us to the water’s edge. 
And the rescue boats come 
too late, too few to heed 
the magpies’ urgent call. 

Ann E. Wallace has a new poetry collection, Counting by Sevens, available from Main Street Rag, featuring work about the realities and joys of life in contemporary America, motherhood, and illness. Recently published pieces in journals such as Mom Egg Review, WordgatheringSnapdragonRiggwelter, and Rogue Agent, can be found on her website. Twitter @annwlace409.