The Herd

David Starkey

What is it about my seaside town
ninety miles north of LA

a chattering of starlings, a labor of moles

that makes the washed-up celebrities
who have washed up here

a pandemonium of parrots, a clat of worms

act like animals in the aggregate
each individual bent to the collective sway

a fleet of mudhens, a flock of lice

They migrate from bar to restaurant
and back to bar dying to be recognized

a kettle of vultures, a mischief of mice

the sidekick in some distant sitcom
the beef- or cheesecake who once turned heads

a quiver of cobras, a troop of apes

but they pass among us diffuse
and unnoticed like sunlight in shade

a lounge of lizards, a scold of jays

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David Starkey is an American poet and academic, and the former poet laureate of Santa Barbara, California.