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Friday, July 16, 2021


by Erin Murphy

Scientists Still Searching for the Pathogen Behind the East's Songbird Epidemic: In a new report, experts ruled out a range of causes, but they still recommend taking down feeders until the source of the disease is identified. —Audubon, July 8, 2021. Photo: A young Blue Jay admitted to the Blue Ridge Wildlife Center in Virginia with an unknown illness. Credit: Blue Ridge Wildlife Center via Audubon.

Songbirds stumble,  
crusty eyes gunked shut  
with conjunctivitis.  
Out of an abundance  
of caution, we remove  
feeders where they cluster  
like us to cluck about  
the latest scuttlebutt.  
Hands gloved, we dump  
the double-bagged dead,  
muttering that it’s redundant.  
We who have too much  
do not fund hungry children  
but grumble when unable  
to fuss over cardinals  
in lush gardens. We suffer  
from an abundance  
of abundance. 

Erin Murphy’s latest book, Human Resources, is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Diode, The American Journal of Poetry, Southern Poetry Review, The Georgia Review, Women’s Studies Quarterly, and elsewhere. Her awards include the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize, The Normal School Poetry Prize, and a Best of the Net award. She is Poetry Editor of The Summerset Review and Professor of English at Penn State Altoona.