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  • Sterling Warner

Quills Unperturbed

In a dearth of mud shrimp,

sea bass, and perch,

herons pick plumage

for parasitic hosts:

vagabond ticks screwed

into flesh between feathers

or yellow grub refugees

that fell from fish scales

and pectoral fins some

days before when glassy water

morphed into mini rapids

thriving—if not choking—

with spawning salmon,

sturgeon, herring, and smelt;

twilight dims appetites

yet herons blue and grey

still wade in shallows, gaze

at November’s Beaver Moon,

patiently wait prospective

nourishment, biding time

feasting on aquatic snails.

An award-winning Washington-based author and educator, Sterling Warner’s works have appeared in literary magazines, journals, and anthologies, including ANTI-HEROIN CHIC, SHOT GLASS JOURNAL, SPARKS OF CALLIOPE, and STARDUST REVIEW. Warner’s collections of poetry include RAGS AND FEATHERS, WITHOUT WHEELS, SHADOWCAT, EDGES, MEMENTO MORI, SERPENT’S TOOTH, FLYTRAPS: POEMS, and CRACKS OF LIGHT: PANDEMIC POETRY & FICTION, and HALCYON DAYS: COLLECTED FIBONACCI (Summer 2022)—as well as MASQUES: FLASH FICTION & SHORT STORIES. Warner writes, hosts/participates in live and virtual poetry readings, and enjoys retirement in Washington.

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