Excerpt: “The Red List: A Poem” by Stephen Cushman

Excerpt from
“The Red List: A Poem”

by Stephen Cushman

Endangerment’s foreplay en route to extinction

often but not always. Ask the bald eagle,

ridiculous nickname for that elegant hood

rhymed with its tail, a matched set distinctive

against distant spruce, white as the transit

of pre-dawn Jupiter’s super-heated drop

soldering sky plates to cement a meridian;

ask the white hoods about last-minute comebacks,

all but erased by really fine pesticide

but now off the red list and suddenly nemesis

to the gull population, herring or black-backed,

whose chicks make good snacks during long days of fishing.

Eagles increase, local gulls dwindle, till one day, who knows,

Seeing an eagle skim low overhead, no bigger deal

than seeing a crow, so what, who cares, the national bird,

as in permit me to flip you the. 

From The Red List: A Poem by Stephen Cushman, Louisiana State University Press, lsupress.org. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

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