Poetry Sunday: “All the Hungry Falcons,”
by Dion O’Reilly


All the Hungry Falcons

Appetite makes them keen
when they scan the tunneled field
for shivers in the dead grass.
Their vision sharpens, pupils dilate.
From a mile away, they see
their feed, and they take it.
All my life, I’ve stowed my stories
like a box of banned books
under the bed. Each one, unforgiven,
an arc of trouble and want.
They quicken my hunger
for what I’ll never have
or never have again—
a mother mainly, certain men,
but a sister and brother too, a city
I walked in with hot paper cups,
my lips foamed with cappuccino
as it rained and rained.
Oh, the world feels tidal
when I get like this, when l can’t stop
hunting for something intimate and filling.
I see it lift from the soil.
The sun, a muzzle flash,
turning the meadow bright, burning
off the haze. I soar in, see it magnified,
everything itself only more so.


Published February 1, 2019, in SWWIM and reprinted here with permission of the author.

Listen to the author reading her poem here.


Dion O’Reilly has lived much of her life on a ranch in the Soquel Valley in Santa Cruz County, California. As a wayward youth, she worked as a baker, barista, theater manager, and graphic designer. For thirty-four years, in five different schools, she taught English, Spanish, ESL, or art. She has studied with Danusha Lameris and Ellen Bass and holds an MFA from Pacific University. Her writing appears or is forthcoming in New Ohio Review, New Letters, Sugar House Review, The Sun, Rattle, Spillway, Bellingham Review, The Atlanta Review, Canary, Caesura, Red Wheelbarrow, Catamaran, Porter Gulch Review, SWWIM, Massachusetts Review, California Quarterly, and many other journals and anthologies, including a Terrapin anthology, A Constellation of Kisses, edited by Diane Lockward. She has been nominated for Pushcarts, and the manuscript Ghost Dogs was a runner-up for the Catamaran Poetry Book Prize.


Poet’s Note

I read somewhere that as falcons starve, their vision sharpens. I knew I wanted to write about that hunger and the resulting enhanced power—like a superhero’s power. When I was a child, I stowed my superhero comics under my bed like a secret stash, hence the line: “I’ve stowed my stories.” In the midst of my trauma, stories gifted me with a way to look at my life with a sharp eye. Of course, such a state of mind is not final, not set, nor wholly redemptive. That’s why poetry—with its clarity linked with ambiguity, its adherence to imagery rather than exposition—is a rewarding mode for self-expression. “All the Hungry Falcons” is the final poem of my manuscript, Ghost Dogs, currently seeking a publisher. The book chronicles an “arc of trouble and want” with an eagle eye on both the beauty and also the pain. The last section reflects my adult vision of this arc, a kind of rising up from carnage.


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  • diana rosen November 24, 2019 at 4:40 pm

    Looking forward to reading more. Discovered you via California Poets on FB.