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January 2017, vol 12 no 4

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Elizabeth Alford


For the last three days, a murder of crows has been flocking to the tallest tree in the neighborhood. In brittle voices they call to each other, and to me. Lately, their "caw-caw-caw" sounds more like a "haw-haw-haw." I want to ask them how they can dare laugh at me now—like cowards, right to my face but from yards away—when we are already on the brink of winter. When even the most glorious morning can quickly turn gloomy and dark, like a manic-depressive off her meds, or an angry drunk with a bottle in his hand, or a desperate junkie gone too long without a good high or even a good meal. Sometimes at night after they go to roost, I lie awake wondering whether it's asking too much just to feel normal.

christmas day
another cigarette
for the ashtray