The Boiler

Larry Narron

SURVEILLANCE

Behind me the crows
keep recording my movements
like surveillance cameras
in empty parking lots at night.
Crows with eyes like chipped marbles
zig-zag behind me with ease,
landing & taking off
from the phone lines as I
hurry through the muddy trench
that substitutes for a sidewalk
next to the highway that snakes
over the hills in the morning sun.

They fly away when I enter
the convenience store’s buzzing light
where the clerk with the scar that makes
a bald spot through his eyebrow
must be punching out soon.
All night he’s been handing
scratchers & bags of malt liquor
to the insomniacs who wander
up & down this road where the used
car lots go on for so long I wonder
if they could be seen from space.

When he hands me my change
I ask him if he knows
anything about these crows.
He says there must be a nest nearby.
You have to keep your eye on them, he says.
If you turn your head then they’ll swoop.
You have to stare them down.

I can feel his eyes
digging through the hair
on the back of my head as I leave.

___________________

Larry Narron worked as a window cleaner in Southern California before studying English literature at UC Berkeley, where he attended Joyce Carol Oates’s short fiction workshop and was awarded the Rosenberg Prize in Lyric Poetry. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Whiskey Island, Eleven Eleven, The Round, The Sandy River Review, and other journals. A poetry student in Pacific University’s low-residency MFA program, Larry now works as an English tutor at Portland Community College in Oregon.