For Stevo

Above the city's horns,
the gull's dirty laughter
shatters noon.

I've heard them say
the gull is a reincarnated fisherman.
I look away
when he warms his ass
on the hot-rocks of town roofs.

A great uncle once rooted feet
on the decks of hatch-battened trawlers —
cheeks birched by driving wind, salt-chewed
eyes, his gloveless palms
guided in the nets.

The gull picks fights
over lunchtime crusts,
but once he feasted on the splintered
wood of a crow's nest — with every list,
his nostrils filled with the ocean's truth.

It's a dicey flight
between birth and death,
though I've yet to see a gull's brain
liquefied on the road's edge
or his wingtips lashing
at the bars in zoos.

He preferred to box his way
down the back streets

of every great port. The one time
he fell, old sea-dogs licked iron
from his wounds.

The gull is above the city.
Surfing the sky's rollers,
he traces slate
to dock.

Years back, he knocked
great slabs of ice
from a herring boat's mast,
knowing the vessel
would soon keel.

The wind is rising.

When the incoming gale
bludgeons the coast,
the gull will continue to fuck
on the edge of a high cliff.

Janette Stowell

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