[P]igeons . . . are among the strongest fliers of all
in a grayish pile off to one edge
a narrow field where more trap boxes wait—
acrid breeze plays with their feathers as
lone gunshot echoes across the ridge,
by boyish laughter at a pair
shattered wings, heaved back in the air.
one more shot, as she attempts to fly,
mate, fluttering slower now in the grass.
it happens, no one will be prepared.
a clear bright day when pretty much all seems calm,
much of the world slugs on without a care,
sirens will scream too late; and the first bomb
not be all so different from the last.
experts, those still left, will preen and say
they had warned that this might come to pass,
no one really heeded them, the way
blinded by foresight have always, who
their eyeless gaze. And while bereft
anything approaching wisdom's grace,
millions may even pray to Whom they'd left
dead some time ago, frantic to face
unfaceable—that nothing we do will do.
Mark Mansfield's work has appeared in many
publications, including Blue Mesa Review,
The Evansville Review, Fourteen Hills, Gargoyle, Good Foot, The Ledge, Magma
Poetry, Potomac Review, Salt Hill, Tulane Review, and Unsplendid. He holds an
M.A. in Writing from Johns Hopkins, and lives in upstate New York where he