The Carrion Flamingo by Ed Shacklee

The Carrion Flamingo

The carrion flamingo is an undead parakeet
with feathers tinged the iridescent pink of rancid meat,
whose wingspread is high-handed, while its flapping seems effete;
its hooded gaze is overcast with just a hint of sleet.

It lays an addled egg, abandoned just before it hatches.
Its heart looks like a casket or a book of soggy matches.
Its skin is pale and leprous – pocked with sores, it sheds in patches.
The smirking beak invites you, though you wonder what the catch is.

Some lair in mausoleums, others underneath a rock.
Their voices shake like rattlesnakes; one quails to hear them talk
about the corpses over which their sunset shadows flock,
and few sights are as ghastly as their limping, gimpy walk.

They stand as still as statues just before the chase is on,
and make folks blanch on mornings when they find them on the lawn,
carnivorous as hearses with the silken curtains drawn,
their plastic hues a mockery of rosy-fingered dawn.

by Ed Shacklee

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Editor’s Note: Imagining plastic flamingos as living birds only leads this poem back to the dead.