Signs and Wonders

Nothing ever told us

exactly what we wanted to hear.

Walking back from the dumpsters,

I saw one of the Fletcher’s bartenders on smoke break,

staring up at the trees behind the strip.

She noticed me, shouted, “Did you see the eagles?

There were two of them, just out here circling.”

She said this with urgency, like news

that would immediately change my life,

or hurt me not to know.

Birds are one way we have tried and failed

to predict the future. Driving to the Upper Peninsula

I hit a bird of some sort with my car.

Then, on the way back, I hit another one

on the same lonely stretch of road.

It was nobody’s fault, except maybe the men

who first imagined us capable of moving

faster than everything else. Which is to say

we stopped trying to translate the world

and made it eat our dust. Goodbye birds

whom I hopefully did not kill.

Goodbye eagles, whom I never saw

but heard briefly, your voices trailing behind you

like the strings of vanishing balloons.


Andrew Hemmert is a sixth-generation Floridian living in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Bat City Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, The Journal, North American Review, and Washington Square Review. He won the 2018 River Styx International Poetry Contest. He earned his MFA from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and currently works at Lakeside Academy as a case manager.