Bruce Gunther

Where Do Birds Go To Die?

Was the question my army vet brother
asked during a precious moment
of lucidity. The demons had retreated
and he was sober – save for the occasional
near-beer – while sitting with me
gazing at a July cornfield and its 
tough green stalks. 
We ran through that field as children, 
the leaves’ sharp edges scissoring tiny cuts 
while the anonymity of its tight, humid environs 
offered giddy freedom. You could build a bomb
made of dirt in there or get your hands as dusty
as an abandoned barn. 
Emerging into the yard, body temperature
lowering, a drink from the garden hose,
felt like coming back from another world.
But the question – there was no good answer
for it. Why wasn’t the ground littered
with bird corpses, piled ankle deep in 
some places? 
An occasional sparrow, stiff in the grass, or 
the wren hit by a car; that was the only evidence. 
Their souls moving on, free from the burden
of flight, their ancient songs echoing 
in a distant wood.


In Praise of Solitude

Sometime this morning 
I lifted myself off the sagging
bed in a chilled apartment
above a bar in Saginaw.
I can almost see my breath
as I stare into a weak cup
of black coffee, thinking 
how I fulfilled my father’s
prophecy that I’d screw
up a free lunch.
My neighbor plays
his television 24/7 
and the news program
that blares now reminds
me of how little myself
or anyone has learned.
I flipped open a notebook
an hour ago to face 
the confrontation of empty pages.
I’m staying in today. Winter’s
teeth have sharpened 
and there are no jobs here.
A blind man taps his cane
on the sidewalk out front.
He’s too early: the bar won’t
open for another hour.

© Bruce Gunther

Bruce Gunther is a retired journalist and freelance writer who lives in Michigan. He’s a graduate of Central Michigan University and has had poems published in Modern Haiku, The Dunes Review, Still Life, Last Leaves, and Ariel Chart.

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