/c a bellamy

A Recovering Alcoholic’s Guide to the Birds of Central Florida

I. The Sandhill Crane

knows what I said
that time to the bartender at the Chili’s in the airport
that made them call security
that made me miss my flight.
I don’t remember much myself,
but I’m afraid of flying and
the bars in the airport
open early
for just


The Sandhill Crane knows more
than I remember.
It looks through me
yellow eyed and sharp.
screams at the sunset
dances well,
mates for life. 

II. The Osprey

The voice doesn’t match its body.
It sounds small, mechanical,
a whistle in a wind-up toy, almost
Then in body
it is beak, muscle, and claw. It
picks a fish apart, watches me
bend and heave after my morning run.
It knows I can’t keep this up. It knows I won’t finish
the self-help audio book, and that
I’ll stop going to the meetings
but maybe
I’ll still

be okay.

III. The Roseate Spoonbill

flies over my car while
I cross the bridge
on my way to work.
It senses electric crackle
neurons firing wild
astringent crawling in the brainstem.
It sees me digging a hole
in the steering wheel with my fingernail.
I have the head of a spoonbill
inside my skull, somewhere,
under my face, trapped in layers of
bone and brain.
The panic


IV. The Wood Stork

remembers when it was a god,
when it could spread wings and bare claws
to make us bow down.

It remembers when I wore a mask
with gnarled head and long beak,
when I wore black and white feathers
and tried to know
how I feel
to divine.
Now it picks
through the dumpsters
behind a restaurant and glares
as cars pass by.
It knows when
the judgment comes.
It knows there will be no mercy for men.

V. The Great Blue Heron

What’s so fucking

great about it?

VI. The American White Ibis

Thoth is the Ibis-headed god of knowledge
who will judge the living and the dead.

I remember this when I see an Ibis
looking lost
poking beak into storm drain
after another flash flood
to catch whatever
washed down
from the street.

It reads the past and future
in the rainbow sheen of spilled oil.
It makes its judgment,
it knows how much time
I’ve wasted.

It’s already too late to pray
for anything but forgiveness.

VII. The Little Blue Heron

is born with white feathers
and spends its youth with a flock of Egrets
pretending to be one of them.
When it gets older and the feathers
darken to blue-grey it


There’s nowhere to hide now
that’s probably

the best.

Believe some days
some days don’t.

Pray anyway.


C.A. Bellamy is a writer, educator, and Florida lifer. He is the author of three books of poetry, Lancelot’s Blues, The Mermaid Postcard, and American Museum. His work has appeared in The Louisville Review, Moonshot, Penumbra, Switched-on Gutenberg, Defenestration, and The Sandhill Review. He earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. He lives in Tampa with a cat named Oskar.