The Ancient Flocks of Wilson Street
by Bill Cushing
Illustrated by Santosh Oommen

They flock to the park cloaked in black,
perched on benches in the Winter sun,
the bills of their ball caps, like beaks,
dipping in and out. Like the grackles
surrounding bread crumbs,
the ancient Armenians
ease their emotional baggage—too young
to remember but old enough to recall those
who lived through or died from
the Turkish carnage.

Surrounding the tables
filled with scattered dominoes,
on Christmas Eve, the old men chatter
of the old country, moving and
connecting the ivory bones
with brittle fingers. This little plot is now
their patch of earth, and territorial
as chastising mockingbirds,
they chase strangers from the grounds,
children from weathered monkey bars.