The Manhattan Review
The Manhattan Review
Established 1980

Archive > Vol. 3 no. 2


Colleen J. McElroy

Shelley at Sequim Inlet


Gull you never were a bird to float
on balmy breeze        high on a manure pile
you are king        your feet planted firm
as a farmer’s boots        the smell suits
your dirty white coat        bird that is gull
you are no romantic speck hovering
in search of scraps        warm rot or rust
dirty bird you bully this northwest coast
and any other that offers loot        heavy-winged
you circle spews of foam as if some great
gossip nailed you to the spot         hawking
for gang wars        keeping the neighborhood
awake just to break your brother’s back
       What gall you have gull
       What open lust and luck
       What single eye and hip-broke walk
no petal soft bearing whips you toward garbage
fighting’s your only relief from the constant
call for food        and heaven is the air
alive with the smell of dead things
come on gull        voodoo caller of the sea        riffraff
faker        we know you        despite your shrill delight
your cracked-beak squawks say you’re gray with fear