Parking Lot Birds Favor Older Cars,

by Michael Mark

shifting twig foot to twig foot
like tweed-coated squatters around
trash can fires. 

Three more dart by a row
of sleek eco-machines, then bunch
under an ‘87 Civic, my coughing crate:
fluid in the pipes – enough congestion to drown
the island muzak from the speaker boulders
engraved, Welcome To Highlands Center.

But why bring her into the shop?
Ted would only wave his oily rag
over her hood, recite last rites. Again.

She got me here, didn’t she?
Don’t I change her oil at the odometer’s
3000th tick? Share her nightmares? (Brute
semis running us down at the merge.)
Relive her once smooth charging 85 horses?
(Now a lurchy trot.) Look

at that glorious steam
seeping from her cracked hoses, gasket gaps,
bathing her dozen adopted fledglings!

Jacketed, sweatered, scarfed and gloved –
bag shivering in the cart – I wait. Let her brood
nest some more, serenade friends
down from bare strip mall trees, frigid phone lines,
ice-stunned sky. Until the wind

pushes thin-skinned me, back
onto her lumpy seat,
groceries wedged in tight. Before backing up,
I honk twice.


Michael Mark’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Alaska Quarterly Review, The Arkansas International, Copper Nickel, Hawai`i Pacific Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Pleiades, The Southern Review, The New York Times, The Sun, Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, Waxwing and The Poetry Foundation’s American Life in Poetry Series and other lovely places.


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