Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Vulture

by Bruce Boston

after Wallace Stevens


The vulture is a dark songbird.

Its raucous cries herald

The disemboweling of the dead.


I was of a single mind,

Like a colony of vultures circling

A lone man in the desert.


The vulture volplaned on the heated air,

Lord of sky and earth below.


A man and a woman

Are one.

A man and a woman and a vulture

Are a ghastly ménage à trois.


I am not sure which to favor,

The dusty music of my heart

Or the rash music of war,

The vulture's keen eye

Or nothing at all.


A sandstorm turned the window

To thickly pebbled glass.

The silhouette of a vulture

Crossed it, to and fro,

The mood cast

By its broad shadow

Was tenacious.


O fat men of Middleton,

Why do you conjure birds of gold?

Do you not feel the vulture

Nibbling at your toes?


I know the vulture dreams

Of being shiny as a raven,

Iridescent as a peacock,

Spotless as a swan

Upon a pellucid pond.


When the vulture flew out of sight

It left behind a landscape

Stripped of carrion.


At the sight of vultures

Flying in formation at dusk,

Even men of certain faith

Fear the Prince of Darkness.


He had entered

The glass carriage

When he was startled

By the ungainly shape

Of a vulture perched

Upon its translucent roof.


Death is everywhere.

The vulture must be flying.


It was evening all day

Beneath the radiation clouds.

It was raining

And it was going to rain.

The vulture feasted

At its pleasure.

Three-time Bram Stoker Award winner Bruce Boston is the author of forty-five books and chapbooks, including the novels The Guardener's Tale and Stained Glass Rain. In his latest poetry collection, Double Visions (Dark Regions, 2009), he collaborates with ten other speculative poets. For more information, visit his website at