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Three poems by Russell Reece

Rookery


At dusk, one by one,

great blue herons

come from all directions,

swoop to the top

of the tall pine across the river,

wings spread,

balancing awkwardly

on spindle legs.

Each time a clamor from the others,

angry arguments, a loud barrage

of squeals and squawking,

until finally

they calm and settle

and a soft sound

like cooing begins.


I sit on the porch, listening,

watching lightning bugs in the trees

against the darkening sky,

and think how nice it would have been

if each night,

we could have gotten to that.




Spawn


Pebbles glow and wobble in the shallows

where foot-long silver herring

rocket past,

a swirling cluster

weaving through the riprap,

looping under the dock,

splattering the surface,

then round again.

And others, hundreds,

up and down the shoreline

their boils and splashes

a raucous frenzy as April sun

beats down on cold water,

green sprouts burst in the mudflats

and an osprey soars past

its talons gripping a crooked branch.




Copperhead


No narrow fellow in the grass.

He’s short, fat as a man’s forearm

and curled up on the steps to my dock.

Tan and brown diamond shapes,

black cross bands, think gothic tattoos

on the bulging arm of an outlaw biker.


He sees me,

his wide head cocks back,

tail quivers like a rattler,

yellow eyes, slit pupils

follow my every move.


I tell him there’s not supposed

to be pit-vipers in Delaware.

Slither back to Maryland or Pennsylvania

or wherever you came from.

He moves sideways to the edge of the step

thumps onto the ground

disappears into the ivy

that I walk past every day

that I wade in to pick up fallen branches

that I reach through to pull out weeds

and suddenly I understand

Emily’s killer ending,

Zero at the bone.


 

Russell Reece’s poems, stories and essays have appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies such as Crimespree, Blueline, Under the Gum Tree, The 3288 Review and Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors. Russ has received fellowships from The Delaware Division of the Arts and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. In 2019 he won the Pat Herold Nielsen Poetry Prize in Chester River Art’s Art of Stewardship contest. His writing has received Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominations as well as awards from the Delaware Press Association and the Faulkner-Wisdom competition. Russ lives in rural Sussex County near Bethel, Delaware on the beautiful Broad Creek.



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