Erstwhile Harbinger Auspices

Erstwhile means long time gone.
A harbinger is sent before to help,
and also a sign of things
to come. Like this blue
stapler I bought at Staples.
Did you know in ancient Rome
priests called augurs studied
the future by carefully watching
whether birds were flying
together or alone, making what
honking or beeping noises
in what directions? It was called
the auspices. The air
was thus a huge announcement.
Today it’s completely
transparent, a vase. Inside it
flowers flower. Thus
a little death scent. I have
no master but always wonder,
what is making my master sad?
Maybe I do not know him.
This morning I made extra coffee
for the beloved and covered
the cup with a saucer. Skeleton
I thought, and stay
very still, whatever it was
will soon pass by and be gone.

Matthew Zapruder, “Erstwhile Harbinger Auspices” from Come on All You Ghosts. Copyright © 2010 by Matthew Zapruder. Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press.
Source: Come on All You Ghosts (Copper Canyon Press, 2010)
More Poems by Matthew Zapruder