Bird of Prey

A. R.  Dugan


Waxwing, he said. / Dad said. / At the window. / In the kitchen. / Mom came running. / My spoon hung / in my Cheerios. / He said it with such urgency. / He was not, / is not, an urgent man. / What is a waxwing? / I thought it was some new / monstrous beast that would swallow / dogs and cats alive— / then rise in shadows / up over the window, / the whole house. / The Cheerios orbit my spoon. / I thought it was some machine of war. / Like the one dad went to work to build. Breaching / out of the ocean, breathing fire, / melting everything. The Cedar Waxwing / is not a bird of prey. It is a rare bird / for where I grew up. / Rare enough, it seems, / for dire excitement. / Rare enough to remember. / Wings of wax. Icarus wings. / We were breathing the fire. / We are the monsters. / There is only milk left / in the bowl, the color of melted feathers.



A. R. Dugan has an MFA in creative writing from Emerson College and lives in Boston. He reads poetry for Ploughshares. His poetry can be seen or is forthcoming in a number of literary magazines and reviews, most recently Sweet, where his poem “Milk Thistle” was a contest finalist. Finishing Line Press will publish his chapbook, Call / Response, in March. He taught high school English in southeastern Massachusetts for nine years. A. R. currently teaches literature and writing at Emerson College and Wheaton College.