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Turkey Fallen Dead from Tree

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Startled from snow-day slumber by a neighbor’s mutt,
it banged its buzzard’s head then couldn’t solve
the problem of the white pine’s limbs
with wings nearly too broad for a planned descent.
Somewhere an awkward angel knows
whether it was dead before it hit the ground.
Any sinner could tell it was dead after—
eyes unseen beneath bare and wrinkled lids,
feet drawn up almost as high as hands.
I loved to watch thistle and millet
disappear beneath it in the yard.
As snow covers feathers that will still be
iridescent in the spring I remember seeing
a businessman take a dripping handful
of pocket change and throw it down
a subway grate beside a homeless man.
The coins bounced and clattered, vanishing
in the humid dark. The rich man said
now you’re having a shitty day too.
But it’s not a shitty day and won’t be
when I retrieve the bird and walk it—
toes curling stiff from a shopping bag—
to a houseless scrap of oak savannah
birdseed drew it from and dig it
into deeper snow so what was hoarded
by a man may by the thaw be doled.

Source: Poetry (July/August 2012)

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This poem originally appeared in the July/August 2012 issue of Poetry magazine

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Turkey Fallen Dead from Tree

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  • Dore Kiesselbach earned his BA from Oberlin College, MFA from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, and JD from New York University. His first collection, Salt Pier (2012), won the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize and was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press. He is a former National Endowment for the Humanities Younger Scholar and a former U.S. Department of Education Jacob K. Javits fellow. His awards include Britain’s Bridport Prize and the Poetry Society of America’s 2014 Robert H. Winner Memorial Award. In 2015 he was awarded a State of Minnesota Artist Initiative Grant. His work has appeared in many magazines and anthologies, including Agni, AntiochReview, Plume, Poetry, and Field. He lives in Minneapolis.

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