Pelicans Fishing the Oldman River
Eight pelicans form line below the weir,
Then drive, along its length and down one bank,
Small fish that, trapped within their crescent rank,
Dart panicked in the sudden, shadowed fear.
The shelving, pebbled shallows reached, they steer
The roiling fish inshore, and turn their flank
To pen them in a swift-contracting tank
Where purse-seined bills dip. Swallowing, they veer
Around, flap off in turn to fly upstream
(Small Cansos in formation), splashing down
Just where they'd started out, then forming up
To work the verge again—a seamless team,
Lined white across the river's run-off brown;
Galumphing water ballet while they sup.
A Wish on Parting
Some harvest-eve they'll clear your tangled grave,
lay flat the grave-stone, cut the circling brush
back to the dirt. The whippoorwills will hush
obsessive salutations from the grove
of cedars. Keen, the moon's stark rays will groove
a cancellation through the false-scribed gush
of your vain epitaph. Smug, the moon shall flush
pock-marked blood red; nor any star shall grieve.
And all, yes all involved will come to dance
a barefoot sarabande to bound your plot,
then leap within to stomp a writhing two-
step numbered by the glow-worms throb, and trance-
seized, shake. Invoked, your shade shall rise from rot
craving a partner… All will answer, “No.”
J.D. Black was born in 1951 in Montreal. After stints in railroad and golf course maintenance, he went into library work. He was at the McGill University Music Library for over thirty years, latterly as Audio-Visual Coordinator. Poetry became a major interest only after he had turned fifty.