Haunt of Thieves: part six

Posted by ractrose on 1 Oct 2018 in Art, Poems

Oil painting of scavenging bird before canyon landscape




Haunt of Thieves

Part Six


The Betoe’l-fowl awakens weak-eyed

On moonless nights she leaves her nest

And skulking to her mates, she fans her

Stinking feathers, peers with a predatory glint

(By dark inches

like standing stones bewitched,

beneath the starlight they three creep)

She hears a busy, wrathful peep, a tick, tick, tick

The Betoe’l-fowl draws nigh a tempest

More sibilant than the nighttime breezes

Yet the faint utterance of a rat

Or brown-backed cricket’s chirring

Is an impassioned battle scream

within this melée stirring life

Among the dead

Nibbled clean-boned by the rippling tide

She, who rules among scavengers; her muscled neck

her tail unfurling warning, her dagger bill


And when she calls, her fellows in turn give voice

The shattering of glass suspended on a fluting note descending

Fabled as the parting wail of the slain

From mound to mound they vault the crest above

Met by the pack-leader slinging like a whip

Howl on howl


The piping exhalation of a burning thing, unearthly

Gathering on the hound’s

Moan, whistled in a man’s throat

The signal-cry again falls from the thieves’ haunt


One ember like an idol’s eye wobbles red

One follows, and they scintillate, crazed with rage

This forgotten god, he stares askew

Until the molten setting sun subsumes his light

So it seems

Gafeidda knows only one unanswered thing

The rest means nothing now

The Shepherd close behind keeps to his word

The thieves are also countrymen

The lieutenant with his foreign dogs

Third among unknowns, is not

But they are all murderers…and yet

…perhaps the Shepherd—he is a strange man.

Gafeidda asks, “Why, Shepherd, can I not

take my knife, cut the buttons from my coat?

Throw them on the path, all I have of worth

…would they not let me pass?”




Haunt of Thieves

Virtual cover for poetry collection Mystery Plays
Haunt of Thieves (part seven)
 Turtle Island (part two)















(2015, Stephanie Foster)




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