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Claire Howland

Navy-tuxedoed inspectors strut
across the street, creep cunningly
exploring filthy footpaths but
they do so with regality.
Intelligence sparks in agile skips
climbing roof tiles without care
black tail in feather flutter flicks
leaps from roofs with gymnast flare.

Arrow-headed, flashing white
swoops at me like a bullet, then
it disappears high out of sight,
then dropping into view again.
The ruffling plume demands respect
cocking heads at those beneath,
superiority in their pecks
scavenger, but such beautiful thief.

Symbolic of something I can’t explain
a superstitious, sinister sign
they seem so simple yet arcane
see black and white or blues that shine.
Lit up by the setting sun
on gutter-edges without glance
like the light, they’re quickly gone
before beauty gets a second chance.


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